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District college football preview: California (Pa.), IUP square off in PSAC showdown

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
California running back Jeff Knox, Jr. fights through Edinboro lineman Alex Gluvna as defensive back Delano Fabor (left) comes in to assist Sept. 21, 2013, at Adamson Stadium in California.

Game of the week: California (Pa.) at Indiana (Pa.)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Records: C: 3-0, 1-0; I: 3-0, 1-0.

When they revisit the 2012 Coal Bowl, California likely sees its 26-24 win as a bright spot in a slightly disappointing 8-3 season, while Indiana likely considers the setback a reason it raised its game to another level and didn't lose again until the Division II quarterfinals.

California entered that game as a top-10 program in Division II, and IUP, the eventual Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champ, came in as a fast-riser on the national scene.

This fall, the roles are reversed when California (3-0, 1-0), ranked No. 25 by D2football.com and the top “other team receiving votes” in the American Football Coaches Association poll, meets Indiana (3-0, 1-0), ranked No. 7 by the AFCA and No. 8 by D2football.com.

The Crimson Hawks' defense again is elite countrywide as it allows a Division II-low 6.7 points per game.

California has won six consecutive games against IUP, though. Three of those six games were decided by three points or fewer.

The Vulcans' defense allows a PSAC-low 60.7 yards per game, but it must shore up a secondary that surrenders 258 yards through the air. Continued success by California's defensive front, responsible for 11 sacks, should help cut down the passing yardage.

Neither offense leans heavily on a star player. Senior wide receiver Terrill Barnes, a favored target of Indiana redshirt senior quarterback Mike Box, averages 5.3 receptions and 97 yards per game. California quarterback Cody Schroeder has utilized the Vulcans' many receiving threats to pass for 241.7 yards per game.

Saturday's other games to watch

• Gannon at Clarion, 2 p.m.

Clarion (3-0, 1-0) and Gannon (2-1, 1-0) have caught PSAC West coaches by surprise. The Golden Eagles were No. 7 in the preseason poll but beat division title contender Mercyhurst last week. Gannon, No. 5 in the preseason poll, dealt high-scoring Slippery Rock its first loss of the season a week ago.

• Geneva at Carnegie Mellon, 1 p.m.

Just two years ago, Geneva (3-0) joined the NCAA Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference after a successful stretch in the NAIA. Carnegie Mellon (1-2) will return to the PAC next fall after two-plus decades in the University Athletic Association.

• Waynesburg at Thomas More, 1:30 p.m.

Other than Waynesburg (3-0, 1-0), no team has beaten Thomas More (2-0, 1-0) each of the past two years. The Yellow Jackets won 14-10 by blocking a punt last year and with a late field goal when they prevailed 26-23 in 2011. The Saints, ranked No. 25 in Division III by the American Football Coaches Association, have not allowed a point yet this fall.

Notebook

• Saturday's Geneva-Carnegie Mellon contest will serve as the second annual Cindy Lackner Memorial Football Game. The event, which honors the wife of CMU coach Rich Lackner, will raise funds for breast cancer research. Players will wear pink socks and arm bands, and they'll have pink ribbon stickers with Cindy's initials on their helmets.

• Senior running back Dion Wiegand continues to run wild for Washington & Jefferson. The Keystone Oaks graduate scored five touchdowns during last week's 40-19 win over Grove City to tie the highest amount since 2006. Wiegand, the PAC's Offensive Player of the Week, also had W&J's longest touchdown run (76 yards) since 2001.

• Gannon sophomore Quad Law, a Ringgold alum, set a school record with his 93-yard kick return for a touchdown in last week's 38-27 win over Slippery Rock. Law also is averaging 90 receiving yards per game.

• Clarion redshirt freshman quarterback Darelle Carson has allowed the Golden Eagles to roll along with standout senior Ben Fiscus on the sideline. Fiscus, an Indiana High School graduate who earned first-team All-PSAC West honors last year, suffered an injury in Week 2. As Fiscus' replacement, Carson, a Perry grad, completed 13 of 26 pass attempts for 239 yards and one touchdown in the past two games. He also rushed for 123 yards.

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