CALIFORNIA (Nov. 22) – Behind a stellar defensive performance and a quick-strike offense, the No. 7 Vulcans registered a 48-7 victory over Seton Hill University in the second round of Super Regional One on Saturday at Adamson Stadium to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals against Bloomsburg University.
The California University of Pennsylvania football team improves to 11-1 on the season, winning 10-straight games after suffering a tough 24-17 road loss against Bloomsburg in the second week of the season. The Vulcans entered the 24-team playoff as the second seed in Super Regional One after the Huskies received the top seed.
Graduate student quarterback Kevin McCabe (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland/Virginia) set a pair of single-season school records in the victory after passing for 253 yards and three touchdowns. The former Pine-Richland standout has passed for 2,859 yards in his first year with the program, surpassing the 18-year old mark of 2,853 set by Sam Mannnery in 1990. McCabe has also thrown for 28 scores, breaking the mark of 25 set by Joe Ruggiero last season. Against the Griffins, he completed 19-of-24 attempts (79.1 percent) with no interceptions after sitting out the majority of the fourth quarter.
In the victory, wide receiver Marcel Pestano (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh/Pittsburgh) registered seven receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He is the first receiver in recent program history to surpass the 1,000-yards mark in a season (1,035) and is within reach of breaking the school record of 1,101 yards set by All-American Perry Kemp, who played in the NFL from 1987-91.
With the victory, head coach John Luckhardt is in sole possession of first place in school history with 56 career wins. During his tenure, the Vulcans have won four-consecutive PSAC West titles and advanced to the NCAA Playoffs in two-straight seasons. The Cal U defense limited Seton Hill to only 211 yards of total offense, almost 175 yards less than the season average. The Vulcans registered five sacks and allowed the Griffins to convert only 2-of-13 third-down attempts. The only points scored by Seton Hill were via a fumble recovery.
On the second play of the game, Cal U jumped out to a 7-0 lead when McCabe connected with Pestano for a 48-yard touchdown. The Vulcans expanded their lead to 14-0 with 2:13 left in the opening quarter when sophomore running back Windell Brown (Duquesne, Pa./Duquesne) scored the first of two Cal U rushing touchdowns. McCabe found Pestano for another touchdown in the opening minutes of the second quarter when the two connected for a 20-yard score. Seton Hill seized its lone score of the game when Steve Trent returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown. However, the Vulcans responded when junior Terrence Johnson (Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills) returned a kickoff 82 yards for his first career kick return for a touchdown to give Cal U a 28-7 lead going into halftime.
Cal U added a pair of scores in the third quarter with a 22-yard receiving touchdown by junior AJ Jackson (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh/Sequoias) and a two-yard score by senior running back Daine Williams (Beaver Falls, Pa./Beaver Falls/Howard). The Vulcans closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter when freshman Zach Grossi (Tampa, Fla./Thomas Jefferson) found receiver Tim Picard (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) for a five-yard touchdown. Defensively, linebackers Matt McClellan (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) and Gabe Hernandez (Scottsdale, Ariz./Coronado/Mesa) recorded a team-high seven tackles. McClellan added 1.5 tackles for loss (TFL) with 1.0 sack, while Hernandez collected 2.0 TFL and 0.5 sack.
Five different Cal U players collected at least a portion of a sack and senior linebacker Jake Howell (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brashear) halted a Seton Hill drive near midfield in the third quarter with his first career interception. The Vulcans now advance to the regional championship for the second-straight year, facing the Huskies on Saturday, Nov. 29 at Robert B. Redman Stadium in Bloomsburg, Pa. In the team’s first meeting this year, Bloomsburg posted a 24-17 win victory when the remnants of Hurricane Hanna continually blew through the area.