Football: California University reaches number three in national rankings


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.

Dawson Wright, Contributor

(November 5, 2021). The California University of Pennsylvania’s football team has tied for its highest national ranking in the program’s history. In the latest American Football Coaches Association National Poll Cal U moved up one spot to #3, following a 42-14 victory vs. Seton Hill this past weekend.

“We talk all the time about not being satisfied but I’d be lying if I said it’s not exciting,” quarterback Noah Mitchell said. “It feels really good to see all the hard work that we put in this past offseason translating into wins on Saturdays and the ranking is just the cherry on top.”

The Vulcans still remain unbeaten this season, with their biggest win coming two weeks ago at  #23 IUP. Cal U, trailing by 17 at one point in the 4th quarter, came back to score 21 points in the quarter and win 38-34. A blocked punt set the Vulcans up in good field position for their final drive, where Noah Mitchell found senior receiver Tyson Hill in the back corner of the endzone with 13 seconds left to take the lead and secure the victory.

“Throughout that entire game the offense had a ton of confidence in the defense and special teams,” Mitchell said. “So, when we got the ball back off the punt we knew it was our time for us to hold up our side of the team and finish that game off. The only thing that was going through my head was executing the current play called.”

On Saturday the Vulcans will travel to Slippery Rock, PA to face their second ranked opponent of the season, #15 Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock was once the #5 ranked team in the AFCA National Poll but moved down following a 48-21 loss to IUP at home. Cal U is 33-49-5 all time vs. Slippery Rock and lost 31-28 in their last meeting in 2019. But this Saturday, the game will have major playoff implications for both schools.

“We know they are going to be our toughest opponent thus far and we are ready for it,” defensive back Jermal Martin Jr. said.

The Vulcans are currently ranked #4 in the NCAA Division II Super Region I rankings with Slippery Rock trailing behind at #7. For Division II national playoffs, the top seven teams in their region advance to the national tournament.

Not to mention, with Cal U and Slippery Rock only being one game apart, Saturday’s contest could also determine the winner of the PSAC West Division (division winner would go on to face #19 Kutztown in the PSAC Championship).

“We all know what the circumstances are,” linebacker Gabe Miller said, “but we are treating this just like any other game. It is the most important because it is the next one.”

The Vulcans and Slippery Rock are set to kickoff at 1 P.M. on Saturday.

“Coach Dunn has instilled in us that we play Vulcan football,” Mitchell said. “We don’t worry about any outside factors. As long as we play our brand of ball and take care of what we do, we’ll win the game.”