UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The No. 11 Saginaw Valley State University football team saw its upset bid of No. 5 California (Pa.) sail wide right as the Cardinals fell 42-41.
SVSU was the first to light up the scoreboard when Meijer
"Player of the Game", quarterback Chuck Dowdell
(Ft. Wayne, Ind. / Northrup HS) found an open lane and busted loose
on a 30-yard rush into the endzone with 9:30 remaining in the first
quarter. The new look Cardinal defense brought the pressure
all afternoon as proof on the opening drive when redshirt freshman
Johnson (Muskegon, Mich. / Muskegon Catholic Central HS) sacked
California (PA) quarterback Josh Portis for a loss of five yards to
force the Vulcans to punt the ball to Saginaw Valley.
A 21-yard Dowdell pass to Zachary Cecich (Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point HS) would help set up running back, Brandon Hayes (Saginaw, Mich. / Swan Valley HS) to eventually find the endzone on a 9-yard run, giving the Cardinals a 14-0 lead.
The Vulcans would connect on a 19-yard field goal attempt with 10:29 remaining in the first half. With the ball back in their possession, the Cardinals would gain a first down on a 20-yard reception by junior wide receive,r Nick Gallina (Troy, Mich. / Troy HS), who would later find the back of the endzone on a 14-yard Dowdell pass. Cal (PA) picked up their first touchdown to cut the Cardinal advantage to 21-10 with just over a minute of play remaining in the first half.
The Cardinals entered the second half strong defensively as junior defensive end, Brandon Williams (Flint, Mich. / Kearsley HS) picked up back-to-back sacks, for a loss of seven total yards to force an unsuccessful Vulcan field-goal. Cal (PA) would redeem themselves on a one-yard plunge into the endzone after an interception of Dowdell to make the score 21-17 with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The Vulcans took the lead for their first time, intercepting another Dowdell pass to set-up a touchdown, and a 24-21 advantage. Within two minutes, Saginaw Valley re-gained the lead, as Dowdell would break away on a 54-yard touchdown to single-handedly give the Cardinals a four-point advantage, 28-24 to end the third quarter.
Dowdell would find an open wide receiver, junior Justin Groeneveld (Kingsford, Mich. / Kingsford HS) on a successful 20-yard pass completion to set up Gallina who would find paydirt from 30-yards out, posting his second touchdown of game, giving the Cardinals a 35-24 lead with 11:37 remaining in the contest.
The Vulcans responded three minutes later with a successful field goal attempt from the 29-yard line, before intercepting another Dowdell pass to set up a touchdown to tie the score, 35-35 with just 6:24 remaining on the clock, however neither team could find the endzone as regulation time expired.
Saginaw Valley found themselves in dire need of a touchdown after the Vulcans successfully found the endzone in their first overtime possession. Sophomore running back, Ronnie Lark (Flint, Mich. / Powers Catholic HS) would do just that, finding the endzone from four yards out, however an unsuccessful extra point attempt off the foot of junior kicker, Austin Borchard (San Juan Capistrano, Calif. / San Clemente HS) sealed the victory for Cal. (PA), 42-41.
Dowdell finished the day 22-of-36 for 261 yards and two touchdowns and 102 yards on the ground with another two touchdowns. Gallina ended the day with seven catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cardinal defense was led by sophomore Grant Caserta (Holland, Mich. / West Ottawa HS) who racked up 13 tackles while Johnson added nine tackles. Williams would add seven tackles and posted 2.5 sacks to cap a strong performance in his defensive debut.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 0-1 overall on the season while Cal (PA) moves to 1-0 on the season. The Cardinals return to action (Sept. 11) when they travel to Big Rapids, Mich. to play Ferris State University in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm.