On any given Saturday afternoon, you will find college football teams lacing up their cleats and strapping their helmets. Stepping onto the turf or grass fields at their opponents university is one of the most intimidating feelings in all of college sports. Competing with the screaming fans and the struggle of traveling to and from schools could have a greater impact on an athlete than one might think. This weeks matchup for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans was the Gannon Golden Knights. There was some tension in this game due to the fact that each team was not only fighting for divisional rankings, but also Gannon trying to prove themselves against the Vulcans. The Golden Knights are 0-6 against California, and when both teams took the field, it was all up to who wanted it more.
The first quarter for the Vulcans opened as it normally does, screen passes and short throws. Once senior quarterback James Harris incorporated not only all three of his receivers, but his running back as well, they were destined to finish the drive off in the end zone. A slant route with a perfectly thrown ball into the arms of Garry Brown gave the Vulcans a 7-0 lead after a William Brazill kick. Gannon now possessed the ball and after a false start penalty, Liam Nadler dropped back in the pocket to throw. A flawless move from senior Errol Brewster on the outside, forced the ball to come loose and sophomore Cameron Tarver fell on it and gave California possession in excellent field position. With the high energy Vulcans coming back onto the field for yet another drive, they were hungry for more points. After a sophomore John Franklin III run up the middle, a fumble gave Gannon the ball back at the 20-yard line.
It seemed like the ball was going to stay on that side of the field and on the very next drive, dreams turned into reality. On a post route, ran from the Gannon receiver, senior Chaz Veal waited on the ball and at the perfect moment, jumped up and snatched it from the air. On the ensuing drive for California, senior Kowan Scott would make his appearance in the end zone as well, with a 24-yard catch over the Gannon defender for a touchdown. The defense for the Vulcans came up big on the next play too, stopping Gannon, and allowing Coach Kellar to set up his offense for another score. When Harris gave the signal to snap the ball, Scott flew onto his route and gave Harris the perfect window to drop the ball into. The ball was caught and ended up into the end zone after an 89 yard throw from the senior quarterback. The quarter ended with California in possession and up, 21-0.
To open up the second quarter, Franklin marched the ball down the field and scored from ten yards out making the lead even bigger, squashing the energy of Gannon and continuing his touchdown streak to all nine games this season. Three drives failed by both teams gave California the ball back and set them up at their own 35. A long drive of short passes gave Harris an open lane to tuck the ball and ran 15 yards into the end zone, helping his offense with his own two legs. Gannon would score right before the half was over on a 10 yard pass, making the score 35-7.
The third quarter started off on a drive that would end soon after it began, with an interception by Jordan Bowman. After the interception, California would be stopped and Gannon would take over, and taking it 68 yards, they would score on a four yard rush from their senior running back, Brock Jones. The quarter would end, with both teams having lots of emotions and intensity started to fill the stadium.
In the final quarter of the contest, the energy was ramped up and the players from Gannon began getting frustrated. California would stick with it however, scoring on the very first drive of the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run to the outside. Putting the Vulcans up 42-14, the game looked to be wrapped up, however, five drives later, Gannon would put up seven more points. With only 2:03 left in the game, the Vulcans just needed to run the clock down, but Gannon was smart and with good defense, they got the ball back with 1:42 left in the game. Brenden Blair would intercept a ball with 1:33 left, sealing the victory and continuing the streak to 7-0 against the Golden Knights.
Now with the win over Gannon, the Vulcans sit ninth in the most recent NCAA regional rankings . The NCAA will take the top seven teams in the rankings for the playoffs. Next up for the the Vulcans will be at home this week, taking on the Mercyhurst Lakers at 1 p.m. at Adamson Stadium where Cal will honor their eight seniors.