Cal loses perfect record in OT loss to Slippery Rock

September 30, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK – California University’s football team has been kicked out of the undefeated ranks.

Jake Chapla kicked a 36-yard field goal on the second possession of overtime to give Slippery Rock a 47-44 victory in a PSAC West Division game Saturday night.

Cal got the first possession of overtime but quarterback Mike Keir took a 9-yard sack on third down. Will Brazill’s 48-yard field attempt went wide left for his first miss of the season.

The loss was the first in the regular season for head coach Gary Dunn, who took over last season and went 22-2 with only a playoff loss to Shepherd.

Cal fell to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference. More important, the loss almost puts the Vulcans into a must-win situation next week at Indiana or they risk not making the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Slippery Rock moved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference and has not lost a home game to Cal since 2009.

Fort Cherry graduate and Youngstown State transfer Tanner Garry completed 25 of 41 passes for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 24-yard score to Milly Raye that sent the game to overtime.

Cal, which held a 17-0 lead after the first quarter, got the football back with 42 seconds left in regulation but decided to have Keir take a knee and send it to overtime.

“This was two talented football teams competing hard all night long,” said Dunn, now 15-2 at Cal. “We knew there were going to be swings in the game. We had ours early and they came back. … Tip your hat to them. They made the plays.”

Keir finished the game with 326 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Tyson Hill to open the scoring. Cal rolled up 407 yards, one more than Slippery Rock.

Cal running back Nick Grissom did not dress for the game. Jimmy Wheeler started and ran for 77 yards and scored two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in the final quarter and gave Cal a 41-37 lead after the Vulcans trailed 37-27 three minutes into the fourth.

“We have two guys who weren’t here but we have other people in the program,” Dunn said. “That’s part of the game and you have to have someone else step up.”

Luke Smorey caught seven passes for 103 yards and Tom Greene hauled in six catches for 132 yards for Cal. Isiah Neely rushed for three touchdowns and Chacar Berry ran for 88 and a score. Raye finished with 82 yards on nine catches.

Cal built a 17-0 lead after the first quarter then gave 10 of those points back in the second quarter to hold a 17-10 halftime lead.

Keir got Cal on the board when he found Tyson Hill for a 49-yard touchdown on the Vulcans’ first drive. Lamont McPhatter made it 14-0 on Slippery Rock’s next series by intercepting Garry and returning it 30 yards for a touchdown.

Will Brazill made it 17-0 with a 34-yard field goal six minutes later.

But The Rock roared back in the second quarter, scoring on 14-play, 53-yard drive when Isiah Neely went over from one yard out with 6:01 left before halftime. Slippery Rock got to within seven as time expired in the half when Jake Chapla hit a 42-yard field goal.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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