CALIFORNIA, Pa. – Junior wide receiver Nadir Brown scored an 80-yard touchdown with 52.3 seconds left and sophomore kicker Cody Nuzzo made the game-winning 30-yard field goal with 3.5 seconds left on Saturday evening, as the No. 6 Vulcans claimed a 26-24 victory against No. 14 IUP in the fourth-annual Coal Bowl at Adamson Stadium.
With the win, California (Pa.) improves to 4-0 this season with a 2-0 mark in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play. The Vulcans have won all four of the Coal Bowl meetings and seven of the last eight games against the Crimson Hawks. Meanwhile, IUP falls to 3-1 overall with a 1-1 record in divisional action.
Senior quarterback Peter Lalich passed for the second-highest total in single-game school history, finishing with 438 yards. He completed 27-of-40 attempts with three touchdowns and one interception in the victory. Lalich became the fourth quarterback in school history to pass for 400 yards in a game.
Leading 24-17 with just over a minute remaining, IUP missed a 30-yard field goal which set the stage for a last-minute comeback. After the missed field goal, Cal U assumed possession at its 20-yard line before Lalich connected with Brown for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive with just 57.3 seconds remaining. The ensuing PAT attempt failed which preserved the lead for the Crimson Hawks at 24-23.
The Vulcans successfully converted the onside kick attempt by Nuzzo with senior Rontez Miles recovering the ball after it was touched by a Crimson Hawk. The Vulcans recorded a first down following a pair of short completions from Lalich to senior running back Lamont Smith before Lalich found junior wide receiver Trey Johnson for a 20-yard gain to the IUP 13-yard line. After a quarterback spike stopped the clock, Nuzzo made the 30-yard field goal with just 3.5 seconds left. The Crimson Hawks immediately fell on the ensuing kickoff and were unable to cross midfield on the following play as time expired.
Johnson, who missed last week’s game at Edinboro, was named the Lippencott Family MVP of the 2012 Coal Bowl. He posted the first 100-yard receiving game of his career, finishing with 120 yards and tied his career high with six receptions.
Junior Mike Williams and Brown also surpassed the 100-yard mark on Saturday. Williams led all players with a career-high 143 yards – his third consecutive 100-yard game – on nine catches and Brown totaled six receptions and 128 yards.
With the game tied at 7-7, the Vulcans took a 14-7 lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Lalich to junior running back RJ Thomas (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) with 6:00 left before halftime. IUP countered with a 41-yard field goal on its next drive before Nuzzo made a 30-yard field goal as the first half expired, 17-10.
Following a scoreless third quarter, IUP capitalized on a turnover deep in Cal U territory with a game-tying touchdown, 17-17, with 10:14 remaining. The Crimson Hawks took their first lead of the game on their next possession with an eight-yard touchdown pass with 6:58 left. The Vulcans looked to counter on the ensuing drive before Williams fumbled after a 41-yard reception. IUP then worked five-plus minutes off the clock before missing the 30-yard field goal.
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