Story and photo courtesy of California (Pa.) Athletics
CLARION, Pa. – The No. 16 Vulcans scored touchdowns on five-straight drives in the first half en route to claiming a 41-22 victory over Clarion at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play.
With the win, the California University of Pennsylvania football team improves to 5-1 overall and remains tied for first in the divisional standings with a 3-0 mark. The Vulcans have now won eight-consecutive and nine of the last 11 meetings against the Golden Eagles. Meanwhile, Clarion falls to 3-3 this season with a 1-2 record in league action.
Senior quarterback Peter Lalich (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) posted his fifth-consecutive 300-yard game, finishing with 368 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 21-of-29 attempts with no interceptions on Saturday. Over the last five weeks, Lalich is averaging 373.4 passing yards per game passed with 13 touchdowns.
Junior wide receivers Trey Johnson (Rochester, Pa./Rochester) and Mike Williams (Hershey, Pa./Milton Hershey) both registered 100-yard games against the Golden Eagles. Williams led the team with 149 receiving yards and one touchdown on eight catches, while Johnson finished with a career-high 147 yards on seven receptions with one score.
Cal U took a 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game with a five-yard touchdown run by senior running back Lamont Smith (Penn Hills, Pa./Central Catholic). The Vulcans added to their lead on their next drive, as Lalich found Williams for a 37-yard touchdown with 5:51 left in the first quarter. After forcing a turnover on downs late in the quarter, Cal U took a 21-0 lead when Lalich connected with senior tight end Blake Williamson (Houston, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) for a 24-yard score with 12:09 remaining in the first half.
The Vulcans scored another touchdown on the first play of their next drive, as Johnson scored on a 67-yard completion from Lalich with 9:40 left in the second quarter. Clarion countered with a touchdown on the next drive before Cal U responded with a nine-play drive capped with a two-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore Jeff Knox, Jr. (Pittsburgh, Pa./DeMatha Catholic (Md.)). The Golden Eagles moved into field-goal range on the next drive before junior defensive lineman BJ Stevens (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) forced a fumble on a sack and freshman defensive lineman Kenny Smith (Sterling, Va./Parkview) recovered the fumble.
Midway through the third, senior defensive back Rontez Miles (Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills) made an interception just outside the end zone before Clarion trimmed the deficit to 35-14 with 1:13 left in the quarter. Early in the fourth, the Vulcans forced a turnover on downs before mounting an 83-yard drive highlighted by a 12-yard touchdown run from Smith with 7:40 remaining. The Golden Eagles added a touchdown with 1:13 remaining to cut the lead to 41-22.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brett Diamond (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) led the team with nine tackles and 1.0 TFL. Miles and sophomore Terrell Roberson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills) both totaled eight stops in the victory. A preseason All-American, Miles has made 33 tackles and three interceptions in the last three games.
Cal U returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 13, when it hosts Lock Haven for Homecoming with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m.