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.