With their backs against the wall, the California Vulcans Football team needed to beat Lock Haven and hope for the best in making a return to the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2011. Also the Vulcans receiving core was looking to make their mark in history this week with Kowan Scott being nine yards away from prestigious honors, and taking the all-time school receiving yards record. Prestigious honors for Vulcan players began last week when Senior James Harris became the third quarterback in school history to throw for 7,000 passing yards.
The first drive produced three points for Lock Haven, however, a strong showing from the offensive line allowed Senior Derrick Fiore to run the ball five yards into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the season and capped off a 60-yard drive. The scoring would continue in the first quarter with Lock Haven answering right back on a 29-yard run from Malyk Harris, making the score 10-7 in favor of the Bald Eagles. To continue the fantastic senior season for Harris, a throw early in the drive to Kowan Scott would give him the record, and the Vulcans a chance at yet another score. Junior wide receiver Garry Brown would get open two plays later and spin into the end zone to complete the first quarter with the Vulcans ahead, 14-10.
A huge play on the opening drive of the second quarter would allow Brown to sneak through the secondary on fourth and six to score easily with a perfectly placed ball. The Vulcans would take the 21-10 lead and the Bald Eagles looked to gain some ground back. After being stopped on both sides of the ball on three consecutive drives, sophomore John Franklin III would continue his scoring streak to 11 straight, and put 7 more points on the board. Franklin became the first Vulcans running back to score in every game this season since Antoine Bagwell did it in 2005. Caleb Walton and the Bald Eagles would find a way to score on a few drives later with a four-yard pass from redshirt junior. California would expand the lead to 18 on the very next drive with an 18-yard pass to sophomore Luke Smorey. The defensive presence for the Vulcans continued to shine in this game, with junior Jordan Bowman stepping up and intercepting Waltons throw right before the quarter came to a close. The Vulcans would go into halftime possessing a 35-17 lead and all the momentum.
Immediately following halftime, Harris would throw a deep pass to Scott, resulting in an 87-yard TD, pushing the Vulcans closer to victory. However, Lock Haven fought back, and on a lapse in coverage, Dan Krupko, would score for the Bald Eagles and lessen the gap back to 18. Garry Brown would make his name known yet again in the closing minutes on a five yard catch to make the score 49-24.
Towards the end of the game, Franklin would score again to end an 18-yard drive and eventually the game with the final score of 56-24. This impressive victory from the Vulcans improved their record to 8-3, and although luck was not on their side as they were kept out of the Division II playoffs for the fourth straight season. Despite that, this was the 10th out of the past 11 seasons where the Vulcans put up 8 wins. The seniors this season were a huge factor not only on the offensive side of the ball, but also the defensive. James Harris and Kowan Scott were threats every single game, with Derrick Fiore being the unsung hero for most of the season. Chaz Veal also held a key role in the secondary and finished the year with 69 tackles plus Errol Brewster compiling seven sacks in his lone season as a Vulcan. Although this season is over, the Vulcans will continue to improve and hope to make an appearance in the playoffs next year.