Cal U rallies for Coal Bowl victory at IUP, 38-34

Mitchell named Coal Bowl MVP behind four passing touchdowns; Vulcans force three turnovers


IUP Sports Information

Cal U’s Tyson Hill catches the game-winning touchdown from 4 yards out with 11 seconds remaining in the 12th Annual Coal Bowl at IUP, Oct. 23, 2021. The catch gave the fifth-ranked Vulcans a 38-34 win over the Crimson Hawks.

Matthew Kifer, Sports Information Director

INDIANA, Pa. (Oct. 23)  Fifth ranked Cal U scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning touchdown with 11 seconds left, to earn a 38-34 comeback win over No. 23 IUP in the 12th Coal Bowl on Saturday afternoon in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West action.

With the victory, the California University of Pennsylvania football team improves to 7-0 overall with a 4-0 mark in divisional play. The Vulcans now hold sole possession of first place in the PSAC West standings with two weeks left in league action. Meanwhile, IUP drops to 4-2 this season behind a 4-1 record in conference play.

Junior quarterback Noah Mitchell  finished with 359 passing yards and four touchdowns on 30-of-43 attempts with no interceptions. He helped the Vulcans score touchdowns on each of their last four drives while posting 250 passing yards on 22-of-28 attempts with three scores in the second half. Mitchell now ranks second all-time in school history with 7,468 passing yards, surpassing James Harris (2013-15) and Joe Ruggiero (2004-07) on Saturday.

Junior wide receiver Derek Lockhart led the team with 153 receiving yards on nine catches with two touchdowns – all career highs. Classmate Cam Tarrant  also caught a pair of touchdown passes on Saturday and finished with 97 receiving yards on 11 catches, equaling his career high set two weeks ago. Senior wide receiver Tyson Hill made four receptions for 97 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.

The Vulcans forced three turnovers in the victory after the Crimson Hawks entered play with just a total of two turnovers in five games. Junior defensive back Jermal Martin, Jr. tied for the team lead with nine tackles (five solo) and added 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, one interception and one forced fumble in the victory. Classmate Gerald Brown also tallied nine stops (one solo) with 0.5 TFL on Saturday, while sophomore defensive back Naszhir Taylor recorded six tackles (five solo) and one interception.

With just over 90 seconds left in regulation, Cal U forced a three-and-out in its own territory after an unsuccessful onside kick attempt. Redshirt freshman Dominic Solomon, Jr. then recorded a pivotal punt block that was returned to the IUP 40-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Mitchell then found Lockhart for an 11-yard completion before connecting with Tarrant for a 25-yard gain to the IUP 4-yard line. The Crimson Hawks then called a timeout before the Vulcans scored the game-winning touchdown with 11 seconds left, as Mitchell found Hill for a four-yard touchdown. Cal U completed the victory when Martin recorded an interception on the final play of the game.

The Crimson Hawks held a 23-10 halftime lead before the Vulcans cut the deficit to 23-17 with 2:14 left in the third quarter when Mitchell connected with Lockhart for a 32-yard touchdown. IUP responded with a score on the second play of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 31-17 with 14:10 remaining.

Cal U was near midfield on the next drive when Mitchell was forced from the game temporarily due to injury. On his initial play of the game, redshirt freshman Wyatt Hirt found Lockhart for a 39-yard completion before throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tarrant with 10:47 left to play. The Crimson Hawks then mounted nearly a six-minute scoring drive to take a 34-24 lead on a 35-yard field goal with 5:08 remaining in regulation.

Mitchell returned to the field and directed a 12-play drive that was capped with an 18-yard touchdown to Lockhart on third-and-15 with 1:38 left to play. On the drive, the Vulcans converted a fourth-and-two near midfield with a short completion from Mitchell to Tarrant.

Cal U returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 30, when it hosts Seton Hill for Senior Day with kickoff set for 4 p.m.