Dominic Solomon Jr. came to California University of Pennsylvania for a reason.
When you hail from the “City of Prayer” and helped Clairton win its 14th WPIAL championship as a senior in 2019, making the near 26-mile trip along the Monongahela River to join the program of one of NCAA Division II football’s traditional powers might just seem like a natural step in your progression.
“Win games, win championships,” Solomon said. “That’s the end goal every year.”
Now in his third season starting in the Vulcans defensive backfield, Solomon and his teammates are poised to give themselves a chance to do just that.
California overwhelmed visiting Seton Hill to the tune of a 41-14 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division victory Saturday at Adamson Stadium in which the Vulcans defense racked up four interceptions and six sacks and the offense compiled 341 yards of total offense.
Solomon returned one of those interceptions 53 yards for a first-quarter touchdown for California (5-1, 4-0). The 6-foot-1, 215-pound defensive back also had four tackles and a sack against Seton Hill (2-5, 1-3).
Vulcans redshirt freshman defensive back Keith Charney also intercepted three passes and returned one 49 yards for a touchdown Saturday.
“We show up for work, and we do it for each other,” Solomon said. “That’s what I feel like our biggest strength is. We don’t have no selfish guys in the room, in our defensive room. We work very hard up front. We have two good linebackers who show up every day even our backups, they’re good.
“As a defensive back group,” he added, “we probably have got one of the best defensive back groups in the conference, if not the nation. We just show up and work.”
And California will have its work cut out for it next Saturday.
After earning its fourth-consecutive victory, the Vulcans will next travel to face Slippery Rock, the 10th-ranked team in the nation and undefeated first-place leader of the pack in the PSAC West, at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
“Our goal is to win a PSAC championship and compete for a national championship every year,” Solomon said. “That doesn’t change. The standard will be the standard no matter what.”
Junior linebacker John Hutchinson leads California with 36 tackles, while Solomon has 35. Sophomore linebacker Ibrahim Sanogo has a team-high 5½ sacks, and defensive lineman Gaige Hill has 2.
“We missed way too many tackles early in the year,” eighth-year California coach Gary Dunn said. “I think we are continuing to get better at that.”
On offense, the key for the Vulcans is balance, Dunn said.
“It all starts with our run game,” he said. “I think our offensive line is doing a nice job. We’re an offense that tries to be a balanced offense, so if we can establish the run then we feel like we’re going to have success.”
Running back Eric McKan III has rushed for a team-high 321 yards and six touchdowns for California, while freshman Bobby Boyd Jr., a 2023 McKeesport graduate, has added 262 yards and a score.
“We’ve got four different running backs who are all different,” Boyd said. “You don’t know which one switches up the game. Our starting running back, his name is Eric McKan, he’s more of the strong power back. He goes in, wears the team down, and then I come in and I’m more of the cutting back.
“When you think you’re going to get a power back, it just opens up.”
The Vulcans running game has also opened things up for quarterback Davis Black.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior has completed 102-of-166 passes for 1,675 yards, 14 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He completed 14-of-23 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns against Seton Hill.
“No team is perfect right now,” Boyd said. “We have got to fix our mistakes, but my expectation is win every week. If that means the championships, if that means the playoffs, each week we play we win.”
No. 10 Slippery Rock comes alive late to survive Gannon upset bid
Despite trailing by three points midway through the third quarter Saturday afternoon, No. 10 Slippery Rock roared to life scoring 28 unanswered points to remain undefeated and secure a 49-24 victory against Gannon at McConnell Family Stadium in Erie.
Quarterback Brayden Long passed for 263 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, as Slippery Rock (7-0, 4-0) stayed in first place in the PSAC West and Gannon (3-4, 3-1) sustained its first conference loss.
Kyle Sheets caught seven passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Rock passing attack, while West Allegheny graduate Kam Kruzelyak caught three passes for 31 yards and another score.
Slippery Rock, which rushed for 183 yards as a team, was led on the ground by Isaiah Edwards’ 82 yards and one touchdown. Running back Khalid Dorsey also rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown, and Chris D’Or added another score.
Quarterback Nate Mikell threw for 135 yards and an interception and rushed for 48 yards and two scores to pace Gannon’s offense, while running back Donny Marcus racked up a game-high 108 yards on the ground.
IUP uses second-half surge to get back on track with win against Edinboro
IUP rushed for 277 yards and scored 13 unanswered second-half points Saturday to knock off Edinboro, 20-10, at George P. Miller Stadium in Indiana.
Running back Dayjure Stewart rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown, while also making a 19-yard touchdown reception, to lead the Crimson Hawks (4-3, 2-2) to the PSAC West victory against the Fighting Scots (2-5, 1-3).
Redshirt freshman Nico Marchitelli also threw for 76 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 69 yards in his first start of the season for IUP. In addition to his touchdown pass to Stewart, Marchitelli also completed two passes for 33 yards and a score to Quinn Zinoblile.
Edinboro quarterback Matt Carlisle passed for 208 yards and a touchdown to receiver Mike Watkins, who had seven catches for 95 yards.
Carnegie Mellon defense, ground game dominate Bethany
Carnegie Mellon rolled to its third-consecutive victory Saturday, rushing for 248 yards and forcing six turnovers, en route to dispatching of Bethany College, 41-7, in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game at Bison Stadium in Bethany, West Virginia.
Running back Tre Vasiliadis did most of the damage for the Tartans (6-1) against an overmatched Bisons (0-6) defense. He rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
Joey McGinnis IV and backup quarterback Brady Hess also rushed for touchdowns for Carnegie Mellon.
Nolan Pitsenberger racked up a team-high 11 tackles for the Tartans, while linebacker Robert Coury finished with 10 tackles, a sack and forced fumble.
Bethany managed just 176 yards of total offense, 25 of which came on the ground.
No. 23 Grove City grounds out victory against Allegheny
West Allegheny graduate Nico Flati rushed for a game-high 186 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while fifth-year senior Clayton Parrish added 40 yards and two scores of his own, as No. 23 Grove City routed host Allegheny, 31-7, Saturday at Frank B. Fuhrer Field in Meadville.
Linebacker Ben Bladel, a Moon product, had five tackles and three sacks for the Wolverines (7-0) against the host Gators (2-5). South Fayette graduate Ryan Fleming, Bethel Park product Jason Muench, Kobe Bonanno and Boden Davidson all recorded six tackles for Grove City.
Peters Township graduate Logan Pfeuffer threw for 111 yards for the Wolverines. His favorite target was Knoch graduate Scott Fraser, who had four catches for 72 yards.
Allegheny’s offense was paced by Norwin product Declan O’Brien, who entered Saturday’s game with the most receiving yards in the nation. He caught eight passes for 89 yards.
Ligonier Valley graduate Kyrie Miller rushed for 31 yards and the Gators’ lone score.
Waynesburg blanks Saint Vincent for first victory
Quarterback Samuel Barber completed 17-of-26 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns and Derry graduate Justin Flack rushed for 125 yards and a score for Waynesburg, which knocked off visiting Saint Vincent, 24-0, Saturday at John F. Wiley Stadium.
Flack, one of the top running backs in the PAC, also caught a touchdown pass for the Yellow Jackets (1-5) against the Bearcats (2-4).
Charleroi native Dakota Romantino, a junior receiver, caught a game-high eight passes for 132 yards for Waynesburg and Southmoreland graduate Isaac Trout caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Westminster offense stifled in loss to Case Western Reserve
Westminster was held to just 104 yards of total offense in a 31-6 loss to Case Western Reserve at DiSanto Field in Cleveland.
Quarterback Ty McGowan, a Moon graduate, threw for just 53 yards but found fellow Moon product Taite Beachy for a 31-yard touchdown pass for Westminster (3-3) against Case Western (5-1).
Duquesne improves to 2-0 in Northeast Conference
After exploding for 20 first-quarter points, Duquesne remained unbeaten in the Northeast Conference by rolling to a 44-20 victory against visiting Central Connecticut State Saturday at Arthur J. Rooney Field.
Quarterback Darius Perrantes completed 15-of-24 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns with an interception for Duquesne (3-3, 2-0), while Taj Butts rushed for 118 yards and two scores and JaMario Clements added 101 yards and a touchdown on the ground against Central Connecticut State (2-4, 0-2).
Tedy Afful also caught five passes for a game-high 135 yards and a touchdown for the Dukes, who also got 61 yards and a score through the air from Darryl Powell Jr.
Robert Morris overwhelmed by Bryant in loss
Bethel Park graduate Anthony Chiccitt threw for 117 yards, a touchdown, an interception and rushed for 15 yards and a score, as Robert Morris dropped a 43-24 decision to Bryant at Beirne Stadium Saturday in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Landen Lucas and DJ Moyer each caught touchdown passes for Robert Morris (2-5, 0-2) against Bryant (2-3).
Pitt upsets previously undefeated No. 14 Louisville at rain-drenched Acrisure Stadium
Aliquippa native MJ Devonshire returned an interception 86 yards for a critical third-quarter touchdown and Penn State transfer Christian Veilleux made his first start under center for Pitt, which broke a four-game losing streak and upset previously undefeated No. 14 Louisville, 38-21, Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium.
Veilleux completed 12-of-26 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns passes. He connected with senior Bub Means four times for 71 yards and a touchdown, while also completing three passes for 31 yards and a score to receiver Konata Mumpfield.
Running back C’Bo Flemister, a Notre Dame transfer, rushed for 27 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for Pitt (2-4, 1-2) against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Louisville (6-1, 3-1).