Whoever coined the phrase that football is a game of inches, would have loved NCAA Division II's marquee matchup between Hillsdale and California, PA...unless that guy had been pulling for Hillsdale.
Trailing 30-22 with just over two minutes left, Hillsdale College knew that if its comeback bid against the Cal Vulcans had any chance of success it would need a big defensive stop.
Defensive back Ben Karaba would force 4th down after making a huge Hillsdale tackle as Cal came up short trying to convert on 3rd and 1. A first down would have allowed the Vulcans to run out the clock. Instead of punting on 4th and inches, Cal tried to get the icing conversion again but another DB, freshman Daniel Pittman stepped up and stopped running back Jeff Knox cold.
After giving up a first half 14-7 lead and trailing by two scores for most of the second half, Hillsdale had new life and the ball at the Cal 42.
The final drive got off to a rough start when Hillsdale's quarterback Anthony Mifsud was sacked on the first play driving Hillsdale back to midfield. The Chargers would get those yards back on the next play with a 17 yard completion to Evan Bach. Mifsud would gain four yards scrambling on the next play before hooking up with Bach again for 14, placing the Chargers in the redzone with 1:14 left in the 4th quarter and Hillsdale down 8 points.
Two plays later a 9 yard completion to Nick Chapel and 2 yard keeper by Mifsud would give Hillsdale a first and goal on the 3. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, a short completion to Cam White would get Hillsdale just inches away from the goal line with time for one more play. Mifsud rushed the Chargers back to the line, out of timeouts.
All Mifsud could manage on that last shot was a doomed attempt over the middle to running back Joe Glendening. Hillsdale would fall in its opener by 8 but definitely went down with a great effort.
Hillsdale outgained Cal 439 yards to 397. The Vulcans edged the Chargers 295 to 294 yards in the passing game, but Hillsdale won the ground game 165 to 122. Each team forced a turnover and Hillsdale controlled time of possession by a 5 minute advantage. None of those stats really seemed to matter in the final outcome though.
Hillsdale took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Karaba stopped the Vulcans opening drive by picking off qb Peter Lalich at the Chargers' 8. Glendening would pick up 58 of his game high 136 yards on the ensuing drive. Mifsud would later get the Chargers on the scoreboard with a 19 yard scamper.
Cal would answer with a 39 yard touchdown strike to tie it.
Mifsud and Glendening would top that on the next drive with a 44 yard screen pass that set the Chargers up at the Cal 2. Cam White would slam his way into the endzone on the next play to make it 14-7 Hillsdale.
Cal would score the next 23 points and Hillsdale would miss a pair of fieldgoal before Mifsud and Mike Carter would connect on a 5 yard TD catch and then again on the 2 point conversion. 22-30 would be as close as Hillsdale would get though.
Hillsdale's experienced linebacking crew of juniors Devin Moynihan, Steve Embry, and Brett Pasche combined for 22 tackles. Pasche led the group and team with 9 while the other two had 6.5 each.
Hillsdale begins GLIAC play next Saturday when they host Ohio Dominican at 7 PM.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
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