Cal Rolls Up Over 600 Yards of Offense While Handing Clarion Third Straight Loss

Matt Lehman 1 - Clarion U
CLARION, Pa. – Clarion’s defense continued to struggle Saturday, as California (Pa.) led by 253 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Nick Grissom rolled up 616 yards of total offense and 31 first downs in a 48-20 win over the Golden Eagles at Memorial Stadium.

(Photo of Matt Lehman. Photo courtesy of Clarion University Athletics)

Grissom, who scored on runs of 36 and 4 yards, was the first Cal back to break 250 yards rushing since 2004. But the junior wasn’t the only Vulcans player Clarion had trouble containing.

Michael Keir threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns going 27 of 36 with an interception including eight completions to Garry Brown, two of which went for scores. Brown had 87 yards receiving.

DuBois graduate Paul Butler also brought in five passes for 58 yards, while Tom Greene had five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown and Luke Smorey four grabs for 71 yards.

The game showed the difference between the two programs – one a PSAC heavyweight and the other a lightweight. Cal is now 6-0 overall and 4-0 in PSAC West play, while Clarion dropped to 2-5 on the year and 1-3 in the PSAC West. The Golden Eagles have lost three straight and five of six. The magic of that second-year head coach Chris Weibel brought to the table through the first seven games of 2015 when Clarion was 7-0 has worn off with the Golden Eagles going 2-9 in their last 11 since that start.

Playing with redshirt freshman Jeff Clemens at quarterback for the second straight week because of an undisclosed injury to starter Connor Simmons, Clarion’s offense struggled finishing with 248 yards including 147 through the air.

Clemens, who was ok in his first career start in a loss to Seton Hill last week, struggled mightily against the Vulcans going 10 of 27 for 147 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

He did throw a pair of scoring passes to Matt Lehman, who had three catches for 49 yards. The two scores moved Lehman into a tie with Alvin Slaughter for second place on the career receiving touchdowns list at Clarion, and he needs just two more to tie and three more to break Terry McFetridge’s career record of 25 set in a career that ended in 1985.

Clarion did get some good news with the return of running back Delrece Williams, who missed last week’s game at Seton Hill for undisclosed reasons. Williams ran 12 times for 73 yards.

The teams exchanged first-quarter scores with Cal going on an 87-yard drive on the game’s opening possession with Grissom’s 36-yard run giving the Vulcans a 7-0 lead.

Clarion was able to tie the game on the ensuing drive thanks in large part to a pair of 15-yard penalties on the kickoff on Cal that had the drive starting at the Vulcan 31-yard line.

Clemens hit Lehman with a 10-yard scoring pass to knot the game at seven.

A pair of touchdown passes by Keir in the second quarter – a 10-yard toss to Greene and 2-yard pass to Brown – put Cal up 21-7 before Clarion got 32-yard Clemens to Lehman scoring pass with 2:17 left in the half to cut the defcit to 20-13 after Phil Esposito missed the extra point.

But any momentum Clarion could have had going into the locker room was squashed when Keir engineered a 10-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard pass to Brown with just seven seconds left in the half. Clarion allowed Grissom to pick up a first down on a fourth-down run and also got flagged for roughing the passer on the drive.

A Will Brazill 44-yard field goal in the third quarter pushed the Cal lead to 31-13, but Clemens hit Greg Leonard with a 3-yard pass late in the quarter to get the Golden Eagles back within 11, 31-20.

Cal, though, put the game away with touchdowns from John Franklin III – 3 yards – and Grissom – 4 yards – before Brazill hit a shot 23-yard field goal with 2:41 left.

Clarion is back in action Saturday at IUP, while Cal hosts Gannon.

EXTRA POINTS

  • The real stars of the game were the officials who threw 30 flags that were accepted – 20 against Cal and 10 against Clarion – for a whopping 266 yards – 162 vs. Cal and 104 vs. Clarion
  • Brazill’s 44-yard field goal was the longest by a Cal player since Bradford graduate Cody Nuzzo booted a school-record 50-yard kick in 2014
  • Defense has been the main culprit for Clarion since last year’s 7-0 start. In the last 11 games, including seven this year, the Golden Eagles have given up 451 points or 41 points per game. Opponents have scored 40 or more against Clarion six times now in those 11 contests.
  • controlled the ball for 39 minutes, 14 seconds after running 85 plays … The Vulcans now hold a 12-5 record over the last 10 seasons in games with kickoff at 6 p.m. or later …Garry Brown now leads the PSAC with 10 touchdowns receptions on 32 total catches … The 44-yard field goal by Brazill is the longest since Cody Nuzzo set the school record at 50 yards in 2014 … Cal U finished with 309 rushing yards on 49 attempts, both season highs


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