- Score: Assumption 40, California 31
- Records: Assumption (10-1), California (9-3)
- Location: Worcester, Mass. (Multi-Sport Stadium)
- The Lead: No. 15 Assumption trailed California 17-3 in the final minute of the first half, but responded with 17 consecutive points in the next six minutes of game action, and finished the contest outscoring the Vulcans 37-14 over the final 31 minutes of action to complete the comeback and earn a 40-31 NCAA First Round victory on Saturday afternoon.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Assumption received the opening kickoff and drove into Vulcan territory. A pass from Cody Williams (Wilbraham, Mass. / Springfield Central) to Doug Santos (Peabody, Mass. / Peabody) moved the ball down to the 31-yard line, however, the Hounds were unable to get any closer. Cole Tracy (Camarillo, Calif. / Newbury Park) came on and connected on a 48-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.
- California answered back on its first drive. The Vulcans moved all the way down to the three, but were stuff by Bryce Jacob (Paramus, N.J. / Paramus) and Joe Kim (Edison, N.J. / Edison) on third down. They made a field goal to even it 3-3.
- The Vulcans scored on their next drive, taking the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line before punching it in for a 10-3 lead with 10:41 left in the period. They added to their lead on the next drive, needing just five plays to extend it to 17-3.
- California was poised to add to their lead in the final minute, but senior Andrew Benson (East Bridgewater, Mass. / East Bridgewater) came up with the interception at his own 8-yard line and returned down to the Vulcan 21-yard line. Three plays later, Brendan Tobey (Lynn, Mass. / Malden Catholic) found Ashton Grant (Manchester, Conn. / Manchester) in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the half.
- On the Vulcans' first play of the second half, Jacob picked off Michael Keir in the middle of the field and returned it to the 19-yard line. Assumption wasn't unable to get a first down but Tracy came on to make the 38-yard field goal to close the gap to 17-13 just 1:29 into the third.
- California took back the ball but on second down, Levi Fancher (Beacon Falls, Conn. / Woodland Regional) picked off the pass with one hand and gave the Hounds back the ball at the 21-yard line. Assumption moved the ball down inside the 5-yard line and on third down Tobey dove in for the score and 20-17 lead with 11:05 left in the third.
- Neither team was able to score on its next drive as the Vulcans missed a 38-yard field goal and the Hounds were forced to punt. However, California went on an eight-play drive and Keir finished it off with a 5-yard run for a 24-20 lead four seconds into the fourth.
- Assumption answered on its next drive after taking over the ball on its own 32-yard line and using 12 plays to move all the way to the six-yard line. On second and goal, Santos ran right up through the middle of the defense for the touchdown and 27-24 advantage.
- On California's next possession, Benson tipped a pass that was going out of bounds to Shawn Springs Jr. (Sicklerville, N.J. / Timber Creek Regional / Milford Acad.) for the interception at the 35 and he returned it to the 27-yard line. The Hounds rushed the ball down to the one-yard line and Santos punched it in for the 33-24 lead. The extra point failed to keep the lead at nine.
- The Vulcans responded with a 10-play drive, capped off with a two-yard run to close the gap to just 33-31 with 3:32 remaining.
- California forced Assumption to punt on its next drive and took over the ball with 1:30 left at its own 1-yard line. The Vulcans moved to the 32-yard line, but on second and ten, Springs Jr. jumped a route on the outside and took the ball 39 yards down the sideline for the 40-31 lead, putting the game away.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- The Vulcans held the ball for 37 minutes overall and outgained Assumption 422-270 in the contest. They passed for 300 yards in the game and rushed for 122 but was intercepted five times. The Hounds passed for 136 yards and rushing for another 134.
- Tobey threw for 95 yards and one touchdown while Grant caught three passes for 57 yards and a score. Sam Blake (Springfield, Mass. / East Longmeadow) added three receptions for 40 yards.
- Santos paced the rushing attack with 70 yards on just eight carries with two touchdowns. He also added a reception for 16 yards. Khaleed Exum-Strong, rushed eight times for 20 yards.
- Springs Jr. led the defense with two interceptions, along with a touchdown and one tackle Benson, meanwhile, paced the defense with ten tackles and one interceptions. Joe Bruno (Old Forge, Pa. / Old Forge) was dominant with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks while Kaleb Silva (Revere, Mass. / Revere) added seven stops.
- Assumption will now host Findlay in an NCAA Second Round game on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 pm. The No. 7 seeded Oilers upset Shepherd 29-17 to advance.