CALIFORNIA (Dec. 6) ‚Äì For the second-straight year, the No. 7 Vulcans saw their season end in the NCAA Championship Tournament Semifinals, as the California University of Pennsylvania football team suffered a 45-7 loss to No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth at Adamson Stadium on Saturday.
Cal U finished the season with a 12-2 overall record, the second most wins in school history, and won a consecutive NCAA regional title after its only two trips to the NCAA Playoffs. UMD remains the only undefeated team in NCAA Division II with a 14-0 record and will play the winner of the North Alabama-Northwest Missouri State game in the National Championship game.
After committing no turnovers last week, the Vulcans committed four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) and ran for a season-low 56 yards against the Bulldogs. The UMD defense also allowed Cal U to convert only 2-of-13 third-down attempts.
Cal U moved the ball on the opening drive of the game before UMD registered an interception in the red zone, halting the Vulcans‚Äô most productive drive of the first half. The Bulldogs started their scoring with 3:40 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown sophomore running back Isaac Odim, who finished the game with 126 rushing yards on 17 attempts (7.4 yards per attempt) and four total touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving).
UMD took a 17-0 lead at halftime with a second-quarter touchdown and field goal. The Cal U offense was limited to only one first down in the second quarter after UMD held the ball for almost nine minutes in the quarter.
After the Bulldogs scored a 38-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ted Schlafke to Odim to open the second half, the Vulcans appeared as if they were about to answer with a score of their own. Cal U moved the ball 44 yards to the UMD 1-yard line before the Bulldogs stopped the Vulcans on fourth-and-inches. On the drive, graduate student wide receiver Marcel Pestano<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=431> (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh/Pittsburgh) completed a 14-yard throwback pass to quarterback Kevin McCabe<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=425> (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland/Virginia).
McCabe completed 17-of-36 attempts for 171 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against UMD, the No. 3 total defense in Division II. The 6-2 signal caller finished the year with a school record 3,214 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes. Pestano led all players with five receptions for 62 yards to finish his record-setting season with 80 catches and 1,176 yards. After the next Vulcan drive was stopped on downs near midfield, Odim scampered for a 51-yard touchdown with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter. Cal U avoided the shutout with a six-yard touchdown pass from McCabe to junior wide receiver AJ Jackson<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=413> (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh/Sequoias) with 55 seconds left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs added a pair of fourth-quarter scores, including a four-yard touchdown pass by Schlafke, one of eight finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy. Juniors Brandon Gordon<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=252> (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance) and Matt McClellan<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=257> (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) each led the Vulcans with a career-high nine tackles. The trio of senior free safety Juan Butler<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=271> (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport), strong safety Brandon Livsey<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=270> (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and sophomore linebacker Brett Diamond<http://calvulcans.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=405> (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) each finished with six stops.
Notes: Cal U has won 25 of its last 28 games ‚Ä¶ UMD is making its third NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, losing the first times in the opening round ‚Ä¶ The Vulcans played seven teams in 2008 that ranked were ranked in the final American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 Coaches‚Äô Poll of the regular season.