Cal rolls behind Schroeder, defense
California’s Mike Williams runs away from the Kutztown defense for a 41-yard touchdown reception during the first half.
Don Wright / for the Observer-Reporter
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CALIFORNIA – This time, there would be no need for a game-clinching touchdown catch in the final minute, no last-gasp drive to ward off and no hostile crowd to deal with on this crisp Saturday afternoon.
What California University’s football team needed was a dominating performance, and the Vulcans got that, thanks to a potent passing game on the accurate arm of quarterback Cody Schroeder and the awesome play of a defense led by linebacker B.J. Stevens.
That combination, crafted in the home confines of Adamson Stadium, produced a 45-10 romp over Kutztown in a PSAC crossover game.
The win moved California to 2-0 overall and dropped Kutztown to 0-2.
Unlike last week’s heart-stopping 22-19 victory over Hillsdale in a game not decided until Mike Williams made a five-yard touchdown catch and Cal’s defense held off a last-second field goal attempt, the win over Kutztown was sewn up at halftime. The Vulcans led 24-0 at the time, and the final 30 minutes was more a formality.
“The most growth you have as a football team is between the first and second game,” said Cal head coach Mike Kellar. “The same thing goes for your quarterback. He made mistakes in the first game, but in this game, he played well. He understood the game plan and he made the throws. I think he’s matured. He has to continue to mature to be the player he wants to be.”
Schroeder completed 26 of 37 passes for 270 yards and had three touchdowns against Hillsdale, and he was even better against Kutztown. Schroeder completed 20 of 28 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.
“The way we started last week (not scoring in the first half), I’ve got to learn from that,” said Schroeder. “I basically do what Coach Kellar tells me to do. We started out quick on offense, and that got the ball rolling. I probably feel more comfortable at home, but the turf is green any place you play.”
Williams, last week’s hero with his TD catch with 50 seconds to play, had eight receptions for 132 yards at halftime, including a pretty 41-yard snag of a Schroeder pass on a fly pattern down the right side of the field that produced the 24-0 halftime lead. Williams watched most of the second half from the sideline and did not have another catch.
“That was the best half I’ve ever had,” said Williams, who had 1,006 yards receiving last season. “We saw they were playing a lot of cover-4, so we wanted to attack the post. The first week, we didn’t throw a lot of (go patterns). This week, we threw some big passes.”
Stevens, who had 14 1/2 sacks last season, seemed intent on matching that total in the first half. The 6-2, 245-pound senior abused Kutztown right tackle Chase Fraley, had 3 1/2 sacks at halftime and also spent a lot of the second half on the sideline after the game was put out of reach.
“B.J. was incredible,” Kellar said. “All he did was make plays. We played eight, 10 defensive linemen, and they controlled the game.”
Schroeder got Cal on the board with 11:38 left in the first quarter when he found Paul Butler for an eight-yard score. Schroeder then hit Kowan Scott from 36 yards out four minutes later to make it 14-0. Scott made a great catch, pinning the ball to his right shoulder pad after fighting off two defenders.
“We have so many weapons we can use there,” said Schroeder, who threw only three passes in the second half before being pulled. “It makes it so much easier. I have confidence that whenever I throw it, they are going to go up and get the ball.”
Cal rolled up 430 yards, 256 of it coming in the first half. If there was an area of concern, it was the running game. The Vulcans managed just 92 yards on 21 carries. Jeff Knox had a game-high 54 yards on 22 carries and his longest run was six yards.
“We want to get our running game going,” said Kellar. “We love the kids we got over the winter. It’s a great group of runners and linemen, and we have to get them going.”
Kutztown rushed for just nine yards. Quarterback Alec Werner threw for 295 and was sacked six times. … Brian Justice led Cal with 11 tackles. … Noah Taylor returned an interception seven yards for a TD and C.J. Townes had an interception in the second half. Chaz Veal recovered a fumble by Werner at the Cal five, stopping a second-half drive. … C.J. Goodwin had a six-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter for Cal.