BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (Nov. 29) ‚Äì In a back-and-forth contest, senior linebacker Darren Burns (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) made a game-clinching play with 1:51 remaining to give the No. 7 California University of Pennsylvania football team a 27-24 victory over No. 14 Bloomsburg University at Robert B. Redman Stadium on Saturday in the Super Regional One Championship Game and NCAA Quarterfinals. The Vulcans improve to 11-1 on the season and advance to the NCAA Semifinals for a second-straight year. Cal U, who has won 10-straight-games since a Week 2 loss at Bloomsburg, will face No. 6 Minnesota State-Duluth in the NCAA Semifinals with the site and time to be determined later tonight. The game will be aired live on either ESPN2 or ESPN Classic regardless of time and/or location.
Burns, who missed the first meeting against the Huskies this season due to injury, forced a fumble from Huskies‚Äô quarterback Dan Lattore at the Vulcans‚Äô eight-yard line before junior defensive end Brandon Gordon recovered the fumble. Leading 27-24, Cal U managed a first down before ‚Äòkneeling out‚Äô the remainder of the clock. In the victory, graduate student wide receiver Marcel Pestano (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh/Pittsburgh) broke a pair of single-season school records that were set in 1983 by All-American Perry Kemp. Pestano hauled in eight catches for 84 yards on eight receptions, including a 16-yard touchdown, against the Huskies. He now ranks first in school history with 76 catches for 1,119 yards, while leading the team with 16 total touchdowns (15 receiving).
Senior running back Daine Williams (Beaver Falls, Pa./Beaver Falls/Howard) eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the second-straight season, rushing for a game-high 145 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. The Beaver Falls product has rushed for 1,094 yards and 11 touchdowns on 209 attempts this season. He is only third player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.
With Bloomsburg leading 17-13 early in the third quarter, the Vulcans prevented the deficit from getting any larger when Gordon forced a fumble near midfield with junior cornerback Terrence Johnson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) recovering the loose ball. Cal U capitalized on the good field position as quarterback Kevin McCabe (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland/Virginia) found Pestano for a 16-yard score.
McCabe finished the game with 184 passing yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-29 attempts with no interceptions. The Virginia transfer became the first player in school history to pass for 3,000 yards (3,043) in a season and 30-plus touchdowns (31). He also set the school record with 236 completions in a year, breaking the mark set by Kevin Russell in 1984. After the Vulcans forced a three-and-out, Cal U expanded the lead to 27-17 with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter when McCabe completed a third-down pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Gumbert (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk) in the end zone for a six-yard score.
The Huskies responded with a touchdown drive of their own when Latorre scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper with 12:46 left in the game. After a Vulcan punt on the ensuing possession, Bloomsburg moved to the Cal U 34-yard line. Facing a third-and-nine, Latorre scampered 26 yards before being drilled by Burns with the hit resulting in a fumble and Latorre being shook up on the play. Defensively, junior Willie Walker (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) led the Vulcans with eight tackles (seven solo) and 1.0 tackle for loss (TFL). Senior safety Juan Butler (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) added seven stops (all solo), while Terrence Johnson finished with six tackles (all solo) and a fumble recovery.
Notes: The two teams posted amazingly similar offensive numbers with Bloomsburg holding a slim 383-382 advantage in yards of total offense‚Ä¶Cal U was not called for a penalty after averaging over seven penalties per game before the contest‚Ä¶The Vulcans held the edge in time of possession, amassing 24 first downs to account for 34 minutes, 18 seconds worth of possession.