Despite forcing four turnovers and winning the total yardage battle, the Gannon University football team suffered a tough 35-14 loss against undefeated and eighth-ranked California University (Pa.) Saturday at Adamson Stadium in California, Pa.
The loss dropped Gannon to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the PSAC West going into Saturday’s noon kickoff against Indiana University (Pa.) at McConnell Family Stadium.
Cal U., which improved to 5-0 in the PSAC and 7-0 overall with the win, has been having a stellar year, allowing just 94 points in all. In fact, the 35-14 win over Gannon would actually be the second closest game the Vulcans have played this year, with the closest being a three-point win over IUP in what is referred to as the “Coal Bowl.”
Saturday’s game between Gannon and Cal U. started with a scoreless first quarter for both teams.
Cal finally got on the board with 6 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter on Nick Grissom’s 12-yard touchdown run, which came after the Vulcans recovered a Gannon fumble at the Knights’ 22-yard line.
After Cal U. scored, Gannon struck back immediately, moving 75 yards in 11 plays, and scoring their first touchdown courtesy of quarterback Zach Phillips’ 3-yard run. Karch Holland’s PAT kick tied the score at 7-7 with just 87 seconds remaining in the half.
But Cal was able to move back in front during that stretch, with Luke Smorey hauling in a 12-yard touchdown toss from Marcus Prather with just 12 seconds remaining in the half. Will Brazill’s PAT made it 14-7 at intermission.
The rest of the game seemed to stay in the favor of the Vulcans, but the highlight of the game came from Gannon sophomore running back Marcus Jones, who had a 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Though Gannon suffered a tough conference loss late in the season, the Knights remain upbeat.
Redshirt senior running back and leading rusher Tyler Johnson said he didn’t anticipate any major overhauls in the weeks to come.
“I don’t think there is going to be any change in the way that we play,” said Johnson, who is looking to cap the last season of his college career by adding to his eight touchdowns and 572 yards.
“We are going to go out and play hard like we always do and finish the season with three wins,” Johnson added. “That’s our focus right now.”
Gannon outgained Cal, 325-306, including 182 yards on the ground, and led in time of possession, 31:20-28:40.
Cal opened the second-half scoring on Garry Brown’s 15-yard touchdown reception from Michael Keir. After Jones broke off his long scoring run for Gannon with a little less than 12 minutes to play in the third quarter, the Vulcans added to their lead with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Keir to Tom Greene midway through the quarter.
Gannon never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
IUP, Gannon’s next opponent, is ranked No. 13. The Crimson Hawks’ only loss came in the “Coal Bowl” earlier this season.