District college notebook: Batts, IUP ready for Cal in annual Coal Bowl
It's the meeting of two football teams, geographic neighbors winning traditions and plenty of history between them. Sounds like the recipe for a rivalry.
IUP and California (Pa.) meet in the annual Coal Bowl this Saturday in the latest edition of a rivalry that's quite intense. How intense? Jeannette native Jordan Batts — a junior defensive lineman at IUP — put it in a way that local sports fans can appreciate.
“It's Cal-IUP. It's a big deal,” said Batts. “The students are all involved, everyone is excited. It's kind of like Jeannette-GCC. It's big.”
Batts will play a big role in his year's game — a battle of undefeated teams — which will be held at George P. Miller Stadium in Indiana, Pa., at 1 p.m. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound local product is a starting defensive end who has six tackles this season. His biggest game thus far came in last Saturday's 26-0 win over Seton Hill. Batts was involved in four tackles, including three solo stops and combining on a quarterback sack.
“We got pressure on the quarterback the whole game,” he said. “On the sack, I saw (my teammate) Jeff Palmer getting to the quarterback. They tried to cut block me, but I got off of the block and got to the quarterback. We kept the pressure on the whole game. Our defense did a great job.”
As Batts pointed out, individual stats don't tell the whole story with IUP's defense. In his role along the defensive line, Batts is often asked to soak up blockers, freeing others to make tackles and rush the passer.
“If we play position football and I don't get the chance to make as many tackles, that's still OK,” he said. “We all have to do what's best for the whole defense. Our whole defense is one. I'll do whatever we need to do to help us win.”
IUP's defense has been stellar. On Saturday, Seton Hill managed just six first downs and 115 total yards — including just 29 yards rushing — in the win. IUP's defense hasn't yielded a single point in the past two games.
Cal will provide the greatest test thus far for Crimson Hawks' defense; the Vulcans have outscored their opposition 107-36 through three games. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast at IUPAthletics.com.
Paulone has big game
At the Division III level, Jeannette grad Thomas Paulone helped to keep Waynesburg undefeated, as he had a career-high 59 yards rushing on seven carries to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 23-6 win over St. Vincent. He also partially blocked two punts and was named the Presidents' Athletic Conference special teams player of the week.
“With the weather conditions Saturday, it was a running game,” he said. “This is what they recruited me here to do, carry the ball and make plays. I'm grateful for the opportunity.”
Another Jeannette product — Darius Brown — also had a big day on the other side of the ball. The junior defensive back for St. Vincent had five tackles and broke up two passes.
With the win, Waynesburg is 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC); St. Vincent is 0-2, 0-1.
This Saturday, Waynesburg travels to Crestview Hills, Ky., to take on powerhouse Thomas Moore at 1:30 p.m.; visit Waynesburgsports.com for an audio broadcast. St. Vincent hosts Westminster at 1 p.m. That game will be broadcast at athletics.stvincent.edu.
Hall scores 2 in win
It's tough to even call it “a game.”
Ohio State — featuring Jeanette graduate Jordan Hall — downed Florida A&M, 76-0, on Saturday. The game wasn't even that close, as the Buckeyes were up, 34-0, in the first quarter and 55-0 at halftime before using backups the rest of the way. Ohio State is now 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in all of NCAA Division I by the Associated Press.
Hall carried the ball just four times, gaining 22 yards and a touchdown, including one in which he inadvertently ran over a referee, earning a spot on numerous national highlight shows.
Hall leads the team with 429 yards rushing — including eight touchdowns — on 68 carries, a 6.2 yards-per-carry average.
Things get much tougher when Ohio State opens Big Ten Conference play this Saturday against Wisconsin, 3-1 and ranked No. 23. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.