Valdosta State Holds Off California (Pa.), 28-24

Blazers advance to national championship game

Dec. 9, 2007

CALIFORNIA, Pa. (AP) -Maurice Leggett intercepted a pass in the end zone with 56 seconds remaining in the game to help Valdosta State defeat unbeaten California University of Pennsylvania 28-24 in an NCAA Division II semifinal game on Saturday.

Leggett's pick came on a second-and-goal toss from Vulcans quarterback Joe Ruggiero.

No. 8 Valdosta St. (12-1) will play Northwest Missouri State, which beat Grand Valley State 34-16, for the national championship Dec. 15 in Florence, Ala.

No. 6 California (13-1), which led 21-7 in the third quarter, ended the regular season undefeated for the first time since going 8-0 in 1958.

The Blazers scored first early in the second quarter when Clay Callaway caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Willie Copeland.

Ruggiero threw the next three touchdown, a 13-yard pass to Nate Forse, a 2-yard toss to Cory Garver to make it 14-7 at the half, and a 3-yard pass to Garver early in the third quarter.

Valdosta State made it 21-14 after quarterback Copeland rushed for a 3-yard touchdown, and then tied the score on a Copeland-to-Josh Rayam 3-yard touchdown pass.

A 46-yard Tyler Lorenz field goal made it 24-21 for the Vulcan,s and they kept the lead until the Blazers capped off a five-play, 60-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Copeland to Zach Parker with 3:13 remaining in the game.

Copeland completed 25 of 44 passes for 203 yards. Ruggiero was 23-of-36 for 230 yards. He was sacked three times.

The Vulcans, who amassed a total of 624 yards on the ground in their previous two games, were held to 86 rushing yards by the Blazers.


 

 

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