Crimson Hawks fall to Cal U, 28-10, in crucial PSAC matchup
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:11
The Cal U Vulcans all but ended the Crimson Hawks' NCAA Tournament hopes with a 28-10 victory in the third annual Coal Bowl at snow-covered George P. Miller Stadium Saturday.
Heading into the game IUP (5-3, 4-2) was ninth in the initial regional rankings that were released Oct. 24. Cal U (7-2, 5-1) was not even in the top 10, but after Saturday's result, both teams will be sure to swap positions going forward.
The inclement weather at the start of the game helped the Hawks on defense, and gave the Vulcans some problems.
On the first drive of the game, Vulcans quarterback Peter Lalich botched the snap from center and IUP defensive lineman Akeem Smith came up with it to give the Hawks some early momentum.
The Hawks did not take advantage of the Vulcans mistake and turned the ball over on downs when quarterback Pat Smith couldn't escape the defense and was sacked.
Smith made up for it on the next drive when he found receiver Terrill Barnes for a 35-yards pass that set up a Brett Ullman field goal to put the Hawks up 3-0.
After the first quarter the weather started to subside and it became easier for both teams to throw the football.
The Vulcans took full advantage of it when Lalich connected with his favorite target Thomas Mayo on a 44-yard touchdown pass. The Cal U passing game struck again on the vulnerable IUP pass defense when Lalich found Chedrick Cherry on a 41-yard touchdown pass that put the Vulcans up 14-3.
IUP was able to get on the board on its next possession when Smith ran for a three yard touchdown that got the Hawks back in the game, cutting the Vulcan lead to 14-10.
On the last play of the first half the Vulcans took the momentum out of the stadium when Lalich, who would later be named the game's MVP, threw a touchdown pass to Josh Gumbert from 27 yards to put the Vulcans up 21-10 at the break.
"The Hail Mary was a game changing play," said IUP Head Coach Curt Cignetti. "I was proud of how our defense played in the second half."
Lalich finished the game completing nine of 17 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
In the second half the Hawks were trying to make a comeback, but the Vulcans' offense wouldn't let it happen. The play of the second half was when the Vulcans had fourth and 26 and Lalich found Mayo on a 28 yard pass for a first down, which set up running back Jeff Knox to run it in from five yard outs to put the Vulcans up 28-10.
Knox and fellow running back Lamont Smith combined for 266 yards rushing and one touchdown.
The Hawks' offense couldn't find traction in the second half and only mustered one first down in the entire half.
With the victory, Cal U's NCAA Tournament hopes stays alive.
For IUP, a strong finish to this roller coaster season is all that is left to play for.
The Crimson Hawks finish the PSAC West portion of their schedule 3 p.m. Saturday when they travel to Lock Haven.
A lot of history is possible for both programs Saturday. A win for IUP will give it its 500th win in program history while the loss for Lock Haven will give it its 41st consecutive loss — a PSAC record.