Cal U gets by IUP in overtime, 18-15
CALIFORNIA – As the third quarter of the second annual Coal Bowl between California University and Indiana ticked down to the final seconds, it looked as if the Vulcans’ season and playoff chances were going to go by the wayside at Adamson Stadium.
But, with a flurry of late game heroics, the Vulcans stormed back to an 18-15 overtime victory.
The Vulcans (8-1, 5-1) were arguably outplayed in every facet of the game and found themselves trailing, 15-0, late in the third quarter. The Vulcans were victims of poor offensive line play, a safety, two successful fake punts, a blocked punt, three sacks, and a mammoth 19-play drive by IUP that chewed 12:16 off the clock.
“I definitely wasn’t particularly feeling good,” Cal U coach John Luckhardt said.
But with 29 seconds left in the third quarter and IUP facing a fourth down at the 33-yard line of the Vulcans, something happened.
The Cal U band played the theme from Superman.
Whether it was the song that inspired what happened next, no one will truly know, but something finally clicked.
The fourth down play ended with an Erik Harris interception, giving the Vulcans the turnover needed to get things started.
What followed was an 11-play, 82-yard drive that ended with Cal quarterback Josh Portis finding Mike Williams in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.
“I don’t think we were really flat,” Cal U coach John Luckhardt said. “I just think IUP was pretty friggin’ good. When you’re not moving the ball on offense, you look flat. But we were finally able to protect the quarterback in the fourth quarter.”
After both teams exchanged punts, the Vulcans defense forced the Crimson Hawks (4-5, 2-4) to a four-and-out giving the Vulcans the ball with just over 2 minutes remaining at their own 31-yard line.
Then the Cal U band played the Superman theme again, and it was Portis that grabbed his cape.
After a sack and incompletion, Portis completed three straight passes to get the Vulcans to the IUP 27-yard line. Another completion to Williams put the ball on the 15-yard line. A spike to stop the clock and an incompletion just off Terrance Moore’s outstretched hands in the end zone left the Vulcans with a third and 10. No problem.
It was Portis again, this time, scrambling for his life and using his legs running to the sidelines and getting to the 2-yard line for a first and goal for the Vulcans with twenty seconds to go. Three plays later Portis was finally able to breakthrough and find receiver Chedrick Cherry in the back of the end zone with 6 seconds left to pull the Vulcans within two 15-13.
“We just needed to move the ball,” said Cherry, who was named the game’s MVP. “We knew what we were capable of doing, we just needed a spark and we got it. The first one I had him beat and Josh just overthrew me a little bit, but coach had confidence in me and we ran the same play twice.”
The two-point conversion followed with Portis rolling right, but unable to find his target so he scrambled back left and found Cherry again to tie the score.
“Just get open,” Cherry said. “That’s all I’m supposed to do when he’s scrambling like that. It was more Josh than me, keeping his eyes up and seeing the field.”
In overtime, the Vulcans had the ball first and reached the IUP 5-yard line twice only to have each called back by penalties. They settled for a Marc Domonkos 17-yard field goal.
IUP’s overtime possession mirrored most of their second half drives, as they found little room to run and their pass game was ineffective. A run for no gain and two incompletions forced a fourth down and a game-tying field goal attempt, but kicker Craig Burgess’ 42-yard attempt sailed wide left setting off a frenzied celebration by the Vulcans at midfield.
Game Notes: Portis finished 21 of 31 for 210 yards … Cal’s Lamont Smith returned from injury and finished with 55 yards on 20 carries … IUP outgained the Vulcans on the ground 130-61, but only gained 52 yards through the air … IUP quarterback Bo Napoleon finished 4 of 13 for 42 yards … Cal’s Brett Diamond had 10 tackles … Cal finishes PSAC West action next week at Edinboro.