In dramatic fashion, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (5-1) came away with its fifth-straight win in a 20-15 victory over California University of Pennsylvania (4-3) on Frank Cignetti Field at George P. Miller Stadium Saturday in the seventh annual Coal Bowl.
“We gutted it out,” IUP head coach Curt Cignetti said. “This team is mentally tough.”
In what turned out to be a tale of two halves, IUP made the timely plays it needed.
Sophomore running back Chris Temple (accounting) had a career day with 255 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 32, 1 and 15 yards.
Despite the success of the offense, it had some struggles in the second half.
This put the pressure on the defense, which came up big on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter. California had multiple chances to take the lead but was only able to score a single touchdown.
Freshman cornerback Mikale Makle (fine arts) stepped up in a big way when he intercepted a pass intended for Cal’s Garry Brown in the end zone.
“He had his hands on the ball,” Makle said. “But as soon as my hands hit the ball, I just ripped it to take it, because I couldn’t let him catch the ball.”
IUP had to punt the ball away to the Vulcans, who drove down a short field only to come up empty-handed once again, as quarterback James Harris was unable to connect with tight end Desimon Green on a short fourth down.
The three touchdowns from Temple helped IUP earn the victory, but perhaps the most important run of the game came on a third-and-2 from the IUP 15-yard line. Temple carried the ball for the 37th time, and he delivered with a 13-yard gain to seal the victory.
“I knew we needed three yards, and I kind of got happy when I saw a hole that big, so I sprinted out,” Temple said. “But I had to fall down. I was going to try to score, but I had to fall down.
“It was real hard, but I had to be smart.”
“We had to fight and scratch and claw, and our backs were up against the wall at the end of the game,” Cignetti said.
“We showed a lot of mental fortitude and poise to come out with the win.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Lenny Williams (accounting) chipped in with 134 rushing yards while averaging 9.6 yards per carry.
“This is my first time experiencing the Coal Bowl, and I knew it would be a good one,” Williams said.
“It feels good to get the win, though. You can tell we’re improving.”
Lenny Williams went 4 of 7 with 30 yards passing.
Sophomore Walt Pegues (communications media) had one catch, marking the 17th consecutive game in which he has made a reception.
With 418 yards of offense, IUP went for more than 400 yards for the third consecutive game.
IUP will hit the road for three of its next four games, starting Saturday at 6 p.m. against Slippery Rock University at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.