Story and photo courtesy of California (Pa.) Athletics
EDINBORO, Pa. – In their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West-opener, the No. 6 Vulcans scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on Saturday night to secure a 24-14 victory against Edinboro at Sox Harrison Stadium.
With the win, the California University of Pennsylvania football team improves to 3-0 overall with a 1-0 mark in league play. The Vulcans have now won eight-consecutive and 10 of their last 13 PSAC West-opening games. Meanwhile, the Fighting Scots remain winless this season at 0-2 overall and 0-1 in divisional action.
Senior quarter Peter Lalich (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) posted his second-straight 300-yard game, finishing with 321 passing yards and two touchdowns. He completed 23-of-38 attempts against the Fighting Scots and tied his career high with three interceptions. Through three games this year, Lalich ranks third in the PSAC with 995 passing yards and fourth with eight touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Mike Williams (Hershey, Pa./Milton Hershey) registered his second career 100-yard game, posting six receptions for 123 yards with one touchdown. Junior running back RJ Thomas (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) totaled five catches for 82 yards and senior tight end Blake Williamson (Houston, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) added five receptions for 34 yards.
Cal U took an early 3-0 lead when sophomore kicker Cody Nuzzo (Bradford, Pa./Bradford) made a 22-yard field goal on the game's opening possession. The Vulcans crossed midfield on both of next two drives before the Fighting Scots halted drives with interceptions, including one in the end zone.
Early in the second, Edinboro capped a seven-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead with 11:04 left in the quarter. The two teams traded field position for most of the quarter before Lalich connected with Williams for a 32-yard touchdown in the final minute before halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Fighting Scots moved the ball inside the red zone before turning the ball over on downs. Edinboro missed a 46-yard field goal on its next possession before registering an interception on a Lalich pass on the ensuing possession. Following a three-and-out, the Vulcans capped a seven-play drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lalich to redshirt junior wide receiver Nadir Brown (East Orange, N.J. / East Orange) with 13:24 left in the fourth.
The Fighting Scots countered with a seven-play touchdown drive to the cut the deficit to 17-14 with 10:34 remaining. Cal U responded with a quick three-play scoring drive capped by a six-yard touchdown run by senior Lamont Smith (Penn Hills, Pa./Central Catholic), who finished with 103 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The play was set-up by a 54-yard reception by Thomas, who set career highs for catches and yards on Saturday.
The ensuing Edinboro drive resulted in three-straight sacks by the Vulcans, all by juniors Paul Everson (Rochester, Pa./Rochester) and BJ Stevens (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway). Cal U then worked over four-plus minutes off the clock on its drive before sealing the win with an interception by junior defensive CJ Townes (Joppatowne, Md./Joppatowne) with just under one minute remaining.
Senior defensive back Greg Cochrane (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler) led the team with a career-high 13 tackles (three solo) and senior linebacker Brett Diamond (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) finished with 11 stops (four solo). Townes added 10 tackles (two solo) in his first career start, while Stevens set career highs with seven tackles (four solo), 3.5 tackles for loss (TFL) and 2.5 sacks.
The Vulcans continue PSAC West play on Saturday, Sept. 22, when they host nationally-ranked rival IUP in the fourth-annual Coal Bowl at 3:30 p.m.