A marquee matchup between two teams from the PSAC West division brought the Seton Hill Griffins against the California Vulcans this past Saturday. Playing in Adamson Stadium seems to be where the Vulcans can perform the best in the past two weeks, winning both near the end. This game, however, looked to be a game where California could blossom and play their best football. With California boasting a 3-1 record and being 1-0 in the West, they looked to be the favorites over a confident Griffins team who upset a ranked Slippery Rock team a week before.
The frigid temperatures tempted the offense to devote the playbook towards screen plays and runs, however, on the first drive, Seton Hill came out throwing. Christian Strong is a known to throw around 50-60 times a game as he attempted 69 passes last year against Edinboro. This game was one in the same as he threw 65 attempts, completing 44 of them for 473 yards. California picked up on their game plan on the first drive by stopping them on 4th down at the Vulcans 30 yard line. California went three and out and gave the ball back to the Griffins. After a few more unsuccessful drives, California put three points up on the board, capping off a 13 play, 57 yard drive. Seton Hill would answer right back after Eric Brown caught a 24 yard pass in the back corner of the end zone.
The second quarter opened with the Vulcans in possession at the 14 yard line. A few drops and missed blocks allowed for the Griffins to get another shot at points. Seton Hill went 76 yards in 4 minutes 32 seconds to grab a 14-3 lead when Khalil Howard pounded it into the end zone from a yard out. California then traded empty possessions with the Griffins, until Seton HilL scored again after a 4-yard touch pass from Strong to Norman Darden to give the Griffins a 21-3 lead.
The first half ended in what looked like to be an upset in the making, however, the Vulcans did not surrender. A few strategic play calls from Coach Keller opened up the passing game when Harris threw a 44 yard pass downfield into the awaiting arms of senior receiver Kowan Scott. The lead was now a more manageable 21-10 as the Vulcans came climbing back. Seton Hill took the field and had a drive of their own going 68 yards and getting three points on the board, stretching the lead even more. A few penalties seemed to slow California down, but not enough to prevent James Harris from throwing a 45 yard bomb, followed by a 12 yard touchdown pass to Derrick Fiore. Those few plays gave the Vulcans the confidence they needed to get back into the game, shortening the gap to 7 points. Christian Strong struck back the next drive as he threw a 69-yard missile to his receiver making it 31-17. It seemed as though both QBs were flexing their muscles on the field as James Harris came back out and threw yet another pass to Kowan Scott in the end zone 47 yards down field. The third quarter ended with a score of 31-24 in favor of the Griffins.
The fourth quarter started with a Vulcans stop, giving the ball back to the offense to work their magic. On back to back drives from California, John Franklin III and Garry Brown stepped up to put the Vulcans in the lead, 38-34, with 7:12 left in the game. This seemed like a lot of time, but when you have a passionate defense like the Vulcans do, nothing is impossible. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Scott followed Strong’s eyes and picked the ball off at the one-yard line sealing the game.
The ferocious second half defense and the efficient offense allowed California to erase a 17 point deficit at half and lead them to the 38-34 win over a talented Seton Hill team. The Vulcans will be taking on yet another gifted team on Saturday as they travel to Slippery Rock for their homecoming game at 2pm.