First-place Vulcans hosting Slippery Rock
The Cal U football team returns home to Adamson Stadium to host Slippery Rock Saturday in sole possession of first place in the PSAC West.
The question remains, however, if the No. 11 Vulcans (7-1, 5-0) will get touchdown-slinging senior quarterback Peter Lalich back after missing the past two games with a knee injury.
If Lalich can't go, redshirt freshman Cody Schroeder will lead the Vulcans' offense, which has enjoyed a rebirth of its running game in Lalich's absence.
In the past two games, the Vulcans' rushing attack, led by senior running back Lamont Smith and sophomore Cody Cook, gained more than 200 yards on the ground.
The Vulcans defense has done its part, shutting out Gannon last week and oft-beaten Lock Haven the week before.
Against Gannon, the Vulcans allowed 164 yards of total offense and registered six sacks and four turnovers.
The Cal U defense is led by standout defensive ends B.J. Stevens (9 sacks) and Darnell Harding (4.5 sacks) and All-American safety Rontez Miles, who has four of the team's 11 interceptions.
When forced to go to the air, the Vulcans feature a trio of wide receivers and a tight end that most teams would envy. Mike Williams leads the Vulcans with 53 catches for 762 yards, while Trey Johnson (39 catches for 522 yards) and Nadir Brown (23 catches for 366 yards) provide speed and talent on the outside. The three have combined for 14 touchdowns. Tight end Blake Williamson (28 catches, 269 yards) is also a proven weapon.
Slippery Rock (4-4, 3-2) brings four local players back to the Mon Valley.
Redshirt freshman Brett Crenshaw, a former Monessen Greyhound, has scored four touchdowns this season from the running back position. Freshman defensive tackle Mike Kope (Charleroi) and junior linebacker Bobby Bracken and freshman corner Alfon Cook (both of Ringgold) make up the rest of the Mon Valley contingent.
The Rock is coming off a 38-31 overtime win over Edinboro. The team is led by running back Akeem Satterfield (107 carries for 587 yards) and quarterback Nigel Barksdale (66-of-118, 954 yards, 9 TDs.)
The Vulcans took over the top spot in the PSAC West when IUP beat Mercyhurst last weekend. The Vulcans maintain a one-game lead over both the Crimson Hawks and the Lakers in the standings. If the Vulcans win this week and next week at Mercyhurst, they will host the PSAC Championship Nov. 10.
PREGAME NOTES: Smith needs 83 yards to become only the fourth Vulcans back to reach 3,000 for his career ... Two players in Saturday's game have brothers with in the NFL experience. Cal U's Noah Taylor is the younger brother of former-All Pro lineman Jason Taylor, and Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howlings' brother LaQuinn is a receiver for Slippery Rock ... Over the past eight seasons, the Vulcans have blocked eight kicks, two last week at Gannon ... Cal U is ranked fourth in the Super Region One rankings released Monday.