Cal U defense ready for Coal Bowl
With a stout performance Saturday against Edinboro at Adamson Stadium, the California University of Pennsylvania football team, especially the defense, made a statement.
“We're going to be ready for IUP, I know that,” Vulcan safety Dewey McDonald said.
The Vulcans (3-0) head to George P. Miller Stadium in Indiana on Saturday for the fifth-annual Coal Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Cal U has beaten the Crimson Hawks (3-0) six-straight times, including the last five that the Coal Miners Pail trophy has been awarded to the winner. The shiny bucket knows no other home than with the Vulcans.
“With all the hype and everything, I'm just going to prepare like I always do,” McDonald, a transfer from Fairmont State said. “This is my first and last Coal Bowl, so I'm going to take it for what it's worth ... 3-0 is where we want to be going into IUP.”
The Cal U defense forced five Edinboro turnovers on Saturday en route to a 20-7 Vulcans win. The turnovers comprised of a fumble recovery and four interceptions in a cold, driving rain.
McDonald returned an interception 50 yards for a score and cornerback Aaron Terry had two picks while Tyrone Taylor added another.
“I was just doing my assignment and the ball came right to me. I was checking to head to the closest sideline then I saw all my guys out in front of me waving me on, so I cut back, and followed them to the end zone,” McDonald said of his touchdown.
“All camp long we were ball-hawking and we haven't had that big turnover game. We expect that every practice, every day, every week. We finally cashed in on the turnovers today.”
Head Coach Mike Kellar was glad to see his defensive backfield succeed.
“It was good to see our guys come down with those interceptions,” Kellar said after the game. “Terry's a true freshman, Tyrone Taylor, it's his first year in the program. In July, I didn't even know who he was. For those guys to be making plays is a big thing.”
Leading the way on Saturday, and leading the Vulcans into Indiana this week, will be their defensive line.
“When you watch the NFL draft, that's why five out of the first 10 picks are defensive linemen, because they can control a game,” Kellar said. “They make your pass coverage better, your run stopping better ... that's where a lot of the game is won.”Defensive end and All-American B.J. Stevens led the way for the Vulcans, with 11 tackles including two sacks on Edinboro quarterback, Jon Girvin, who was making the start in place of injured starter, Cody Harris.
“We heard the rumor Harris was going to be out, but we didn't believe it until we noticed he wasn't warming up,” Kellar said of the All-PSAC second teamer.
Kellar agreed that Girvin was fresh meat for his hungry defense.
“As much as they're going to rush hard, they're going to rush a guy like that a little bit harder,” Kellar said with a laugh.
Offensively, Schroeder will look for better conditions Saturday to get back on track after finishing 14 of 34 for only 188 yards against Edinboro.
“It's just a matter of paying more attention to fundamentals,” Kellar said. “I saw some of the passes out there and the football looked like a greased watermelon it was so slick, but it is what it is. It's western Pa. football, you have to learn how to play in all those conditions, no matter what it is. We were extremely conservative at times, but when I look out on the field and see our defense playing the way they were and the conditions being what they are, hell, I'm going to win ugly. I'll win ugly anytime we get a chance to.”
Kellar knows the Vulcans will need to clean up the mistakes.
“We don't have issues, we don't turn it over and we take a lot of pride in that. We did make some mistakes, and that's something I'm going to address very strongly this week,” Kellar said. “It's like figuring out a Rubik's Cube, trying to find the right combinations ... we have some mistakes we have to correct as a staff.”
GAME NOTES – Jeff Knox Jr. led the Vulcans with 93 yards rushing on 21 carries. Ringgold grad Derrick Fiore added 73 yards on 22 carries, including the team's only touchdown. ... Girvin finished 13 of 34 for 120 yards with three interceptions. ... Edinboro got to seven points with a field goal and two safeties, both scored by Cal U punting mishaps.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.