The St. Vincent College football team nearly pulled off its second upset win of the season against Grove City, but a strong fourth quarter led the Wolverines to a 12-point win against the Bearcats.

The Bearcats seek to rebound, 1 p.m. Saturday when SVC travels to Waynesburg for a Presidents’ Athletic Conference matchup.

SVC enjoyed a strong start against Grove City last week. The Bearcats scored first when Kaelib McElroy caught a 12-yard pass from Brady Walker for the early 7-0 lead.

“Our players came out and started the game fast,” SVC head coach Aaron Smetanka said. “It has been more of a slower start for most of the year for us, but this game was kind of the opposite. We started out consistent in the first half but in the second half we didn’t finish.”

SVC led for most of the game, as the Bearcats had a 10-point advantage on two separate occasions at 17-7 and 24-14. The Wolverines were ultimately able to rally in the fourth quarter for the win, but Smetanka was happy with how his team competed against a Grove City team that is 5-1 overall.

“We just have to be consistent throughout the course of the game,” Smetanka said. “We played a very good team and played them well. We should have and could have come out of the game with a win, so there are definitely some positives that we can come out of the game with.”

Smetanka was pleased with the Bearcats’ special teams. SVC kicker Adam Koscielicki hit a 38-yard field goal against Washington & Jefferson and he followed it up with a pair of successful 31-yard kicks against Grove City.

“Special teams wise, I thought that was our best overall game,” Smetanka said. “It was nice to see (Adam) being consistent out there and making field goal kicks.”

Joanes Polynice added to his strong freshman season, as he returned a second interception for touchdown. He had a 35-yard interception return for a score against Case Western Reserve earlier this season and ran one back 34 yards versus Grove City, almost in an identical spot on the field.

“Joanes is a pretty special player,” Smetanka said. “Throughout the course of the year we have really seen some big plays made by him, and we saw that again on Saturday. He’s a guy who does a good job in the run game, but he can also cover. He has good hands, good vision, and sees the field well. I have loved to see his progression as the weeks have gone on.”

Sophomore receiver Molayo Irefin is another SVC underclassman, who was strong against Grove City with 10 receptions for 133 yards.

“Each week you are seeing (Molayo) make some big plays,” Smetanka said. “That kid is a really special player in this conference. He has really helped out on the offensive and special teams end.”

The Bearcats will face a Waynesburg team this week that is 1-4 in conference play and 1-5 overall.

The Yellow Jackets feature multiple area local standouts, including junior defensive back Bo Ruffner (Greater Latrobe), junior running back Justin Flack and freshman defensive lineman Cain Latta (Derry Area), senior fullback Michael McVicker, senior linebacker Cole Peters and sophomore offensive lineman Alex Torrance (Ligonier Valley) and sophomore quarterback Josh Gibbons of Saltsburg.

Flack has 91 carries for 438 yards and three touchdowns, while Gibbons has completed 17 of 34 passes for 34 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.

Smetanka wants to make sure his team doesn’t look past one-win Waynesburg just because of their record.

“Waynesburg is a good team,” Smetanka said. “They’re physical every year you play them, and it has always been a tough game for us over the years. They are going to be excited because they want the opportunity to knock us off and end their three-game losing streak.”

SVC has won the last two meetings against Waynesburg. In 2019, St. Vincent beat the Yellow Jackets, 21-17, while last season, the Bearcats routed Waynesburg, 56-26 at Chuck Noll Field.

Waynesburg has been outscored 272-108 this season. On Oct. 2, Waynesburg suffered a 38-0 loss against Grove City, the team SVC nearly knocked off last week.

The Bearcats seek to gain momentum against Waynesburg with a pair of tough conference tilts on the horizon. Next week, SVC will host Carnegie Mellon before traveling to Westminster. Both of those teams are tied for third in the PAC with just one conference loss apiece.

“I think the team is hungry coming back this week,” Smetanka said. “I think the team is in a different mood this week and they excited to get that bad taste out of their mouth. I know they are just excited to get back out on the field and play someone right now.”

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