3 things to watch in Week 5 of district college football
In Week 5, conference races will start to come to the forefront, and some key game are on the schedule. A look at three to watch:
This week’s annual meeting between No. 2 IUP (4-0, 1-0 PSAC) and Cal (Pa.) (2-2, 1-0) marks the 10th renewal of the Coal Bowl. The host Vulcans are 6-3 in the previous nine Coal Bowls and have won all four at home. IUP, however, has won three of the past five.
Both offenses are high scoring, with IUP averaging 38.8 points and Cal 37.8. The key will be if the Vulcans can keep the Crimson Hawks’ pass rush (18 sacks) away from quarterback Noah Mitchell (1,369 yards, nine TDs). Cal running back Nelson Brown, third in the conference with 401 yards, will need a big game to keep the IUP defense honest.
Lake (Erie) effect
Rivals Gannon (0-4, 0-1) and Edinboro (3-1, 0-1 PSAC) square off Saturday afternoon with more than local bragging rights on the line. Both teams lost their conference opener, so the loser will have little to no hope of contending for the PSAC title.
Both teams feature standout running backs: Marcus Jones for the Golden Knights and Walter Fletcher for the Scots. But teams are clamping down on Jones (315 yards, two TDs), giving the 2017 Harlon Hill finalist little room to run. Fletcher, meanwhile, has 425 yards and eight TDs.
Gannon QB Jimmy Keefe is completing only 45.9 percent of his passes and needs to become more effective to loosen up the Edinboro defense for Jones.
Stating their Case
Since Scott Benzel took over as coach at Westminster, the Titans have been one of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference’s better teams. But if the Titans want to get to the next level, they need to knock off the PAC heavyweights, and they get their first shot Saturday night at home against Case Western Reserve (3-0, 2-0 PAC).
It’s the classic matchup of the irresistible force (the CWRU offense) and the immovable object (Westminster defense). The Spartans, behind freshman quarterback Drew Saxton (South Fayette), are averaging 50 points, but Westminster (3-1, 3-0) is giving up only 15.8 a game and a PAC-leading 222.8 yards.
The Titans must move the ball against the CWRU defense, stout in its own right (265.7 yards per game).
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at [email protected]