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Cal U, Gannon fooling the PSAC coaches

| Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

When the PSAC preseason predictions came out in August, there was a team missing at the top of the list.

For the first time since 2004, California University failed to earn at least a share of the top spot in the poll.

In fact, the Vulcans were predicted to finish fourth in the West Division.

So far, coach Mike Kellar's team has been doing a pretty good job of proving the conference coaches wrong.

And Saturday's game against Gannon could go a long way in showing whether or not the coaches underestimated the Vulcans (5-2, 3-1) who host Gannon (4-3, 3-1) with the winner having at least a share of the West lead, depending on what Slippery Rock (6-1, 3-1) does Saturday.

With three weeks left in division play, the Vulcans still control their own destiny when it comes to reaching the PSAC Championship Game (Nov. 16).

What makes Saturday's noon contest at Adamson Stadium even more interesting is that the Golden Knights were picked to finish fifth in that same preseason poll, which doesn't make the conference coaches look too good when it comes to making predictions.

Gannon will come in with one of the conference's more potent offenses and one of the more suspect defenses as the Golden Knights average 35.7 points per game, but give up an average of 34.9 points per game.

There are several reasons why the Golden Knights can light up a scoreboard.

One of them is quarterback Liam Nadler, who has hit on 158 of 258 passes for 2,026 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times. He has also rushed for 164 yards and scored seven TDs.

In two seasons as the starter, Nadler has passed for over 5,000 yards.

Another big weapon for Gannon is running back Jansen Jones, who has rolled up 1,033 yards and 10 TDs while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

And when Nadler doesn't give the ball to Jones, he has several sweet receivers to throw to, including Ringgold graduate Quad Law, who has 32 receptions for 438 yards and two TDs. He averages 13.7 yards per catch.

Abraham Ocasio has 30 receptions and over 400 yards receiving and a team-leading five TDs.

Another key receiver for the Golden Knights is Justin Caliste with 39 receptions for 383 yards.

Cal U's offense is guided by efficient quarterback James Harris, who took over the job early in the season and passed for 221 yards and two TDs in last week's 33-7 win over Seton Hill.

The Vulcans' ground game even got a spark from Jeff Knox Jr., who rushed for 80 yards scored twice. Knox has 169 rushing yards and three TDs over the last two weeks.

Defensively, Cal comes into the game yielding just 15.4 points per contest and limited Seton Hill to 173 yards of total offense, including just 40 passing.

The Vulcans need to win this big game because next week looms a trip to Slippery Rock with, potentially, the West Division crown on the line.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

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