CALIFORNIA – Three years ago, Kutztown‘s football team came to Adamson Stadium to play for the PSAC title and took a beating at the hands of California University.
It was payback time Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Bears exacted revenge for that loss by scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns and handing Cal a 35-28 gut-punch in a PSAC crossover game.
The Vulcans suffered their first loss of the season after beating Saint Anselm in the opener.
Kutztown intercepted three of Noah Mitchell’s passes and recovered one of his fumbles in moving its record to 2-0 this season.
“It’s tough to win a game when you turn the ball over four times,“ said Cal head coach Gary Dunn. “Four turnovers aren’t going to beat good teams and Kutztown is a good team “
Not only did Kutztown take advantage of the turnovers but also hurt the Vulcans with the arm of quarterback Colin DiGalbo.
The redshirt senior, whose twin brother Christian is a center on California’s team, completed 24 of 42 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns.
He engineered three fourth-quarter drives that produced 21 points and rallied the Golden Bears from a 21-14 deficit in the third quarter.
“To come out here and score 21 fourth-quarter points, it was just an awesome job by these kids,” said Kutztown head coach Jim Clements. “The last time we were out here, in 2016, we got our tails kicked (49-7). So this is a nice win for us.”
In that decisive fourth quarter, DiGalbo found Mason McElroy over the middle, then he broke a tackle for a 64-yard touchdown that tied the game, 21-21, with 11:34 to play.
After a Cal turnover, DiGalbo connected with Jerry Kapp from 27 yards to put the Golden Bears up 28-21 with 10:36 left.
“Every game has to be a learning experience,” said Cal safety Lamont McPhatter, who returned an interception for a TD in the first half. “We’ll study this and come back stronger.”
Cal tied the game, 28-28, on a 7-yard run by Nelson Brown, who finished with 100 yards on 25 carries, with 2:18 to play.
It took a little more than one minute to answer. This time DiGalbo hit Jack Pilkerton with a 34-yard TD with 1:15 remaining to cap a 7-play, 60-yard drive.
“We’ve got to enjoy this win, then flush it and get ready for Gannon,” Clements said.
Meanwhile, Mitchell had a down day, completing 19 of 36 passes for 218 yards. He was sacked three times and, seemingly, every mistake he made turned into points for Kutztown. Dunn said he is still confident in the sophomore.
“He could have done some things better,” said Dunn, “but heck, everyone could have done some things better.”
Defense dominated the first half. Three of the four interceptions played a role in a 14-14 tie.
Both teams turned the football over through the air.
Chase Stephenson picked off Mitchell at the 22 to end Cal’s second drive. DiGalbo hit a wide open Pilkerton from 22 yards on the next play for a 7-0 lead for the Golden Bears.
On the next series, Shawn Turber-Ortiz picked off Mitchell and returned it 13 yards to set up Kutztown on Cal’s 35-yard line. The drive stalled and Dean Krcic missed a 28-yard field goal.
McPhatter tied the game, 14-14, when he returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. It was the second week in a row McPhatter had a return for a touchdown.
“Lamont plays so hard and good things happen to players like that,” Dunn said. “He’s always going to be around the ball.”
Near the end of the first half, Kutztown drove deep into Cal territory. But Jermal Martin picked off DiGalbo in the left front corner of the end zone with 14 seconds left before intermission.
The two teams did have a turnover-free drive for scores. Jordan Dandridge caught a 4-yard pass from Mitchell for his third TD of the season, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter.
DiGalbo finished a 14-play, 71-yard drive with a 1-yard run that gave Kutztown a 14-7 lead before halftime.