BY FRANCIS ABBAMONTE
Last Saturday, ESU Football was defeated by the California University Vulcans 31-14 at Eiler-Martin Stadium in the Warriors’ season finale.
These two teams rarely meet because they play in different divisions. It has been six years since the two schools last played each other.
The Vulcans were able to move down the field with ease in the first quarter. That led to a 4-yard touchdown run by California junior running back Jalen Bell. After that, the Warriors fumbled the ball during the ensuing kickoff near their end zone where the Vulcans looked to capitalize.
Cal’s second touchdown call was reversed on a third-and-goal as the home crowd was repeating “Defense, defense!” However, Cal ultimately scored and led the Warriors 14-0.
The Warriors forced two fumbles in the second quarter that shifted the momentum.
ESU redshirt-freshman quarterback Ben Moser led the offense down the field and connected with redshirt-junior tailback Jaymar Anderson on an 18-yard touchdown pass. Cal was still up 14-7 after ESU scored, but it was now a one-possession game.
Momentum seemed to be with the Warriors as they were only down by one score late in the second quarter. But Cal stopped this momentum with their third touchdown and went into halftime with a 21-7 lead. Cal received the ball to start the second half and looked to increase their lead. The Vulcans tried to score on fourth down near the Warriors’ end zone, but ESU’s defense sacked the quarterback to stay within two scores. However, the Warriors struggled to put points on the board during the third quarter. After three quarters, the Warriors were down 24-7 with one quarter remaining.
Head Coach Denny Douds called a timeout with 12:13 remaining in the fourth quarter to rally his team. Then Cal committed a possible game-changing pass interference penalty near the end zone.
The Warriors were looking to strike, but a controversial call was made that negated Anderson’s second touchdown. It was ruled that Anderson fumbled in the end zone, and the Vulcans recovered the ball. Cal moved their offense after ESU’s drive stalled. The Vulcans scored their fourth touchdown of the game and led 31-7.
The Warriors fought until the end of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, ESU scored their second touchdown when Moser connected with sophomore wide receiver Elijah Rehm on an 11-yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-14.
The Warriors tried to extend the game with an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Vulcans.
After the game, senior long snapper Dennis Long described the game as “bitter sweet,” but he and his teammates fought until the very end.
Following tradition, the seniors and the team sung “Alma Mater” to mark Senior Day at home.
ESU finished 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the conference.
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