One week after the #17 ranked Bobcats (11-1) went into Ohio and completely destroyed #9 Wittenberg, 35-7, they would go to Washington, Pennsylvania Saturday afternoon and produce another huge upset, this time over #10 Washington & Jefferson Presidents (11-1), 46-23 and advance for the very first time to next week’s NCAA Division III Men’s Football Quarterfinals.
Though after the first 87 seconds of the game, it looked like it was going to be a long day. Just six plays into the first quarter and the Presidents marched 70 yards for a touchdown on QB Alex Rowse’s 21-yard touchdown pass to WR Cody Hearst and Washington & Jefferson had a 7-0 lead just like that.
But, the way the Bobcats answered would set the tone for the rest of the game. Frostburg would take 10 plays of it’s own and take just a little more than five minutes off of the game clock to drive 60 yards for their first touchdown of the game as RB Jamaal Morant scored from three yards out and it was 7-7 with 8:11 to go in the first.
On their next drive, the one thing both quarterbacks couldn’t shake off would strike. Throwing an interception.
With the ball on the President’s 48-yard line and it being 3rd & 7, Rowse was picked off by Bobcats Aaron Gibson at the Frostburg 40 and he would return it to the President’s 37.
Washington & Jefferson would get lucky, as Frostburg went three plays and didn’t gain a single yard. Bobcats QB Connor Cox would actually punt the ball on 4th & 10 and it was a dandy, as it was downed on the President’s 1-yard line.
Just as unsuccessful Frostburg was with the ball, The Presidents could only manage three yards of their own on three plays and they were forced to punt back to the Bobcats. Presidents’ P Brandon Burnett only managed a 29-yard punt and Sergio Andion for the Bobcats would return it 17 yards, giving Frostburg excellent field position, at the Washington & Jefferson 16-yard line.
For the second consecutive offense possession, the Bobcats couldn’t gain a single yard, though this time on 4th & 10, Frostburg PK Hassan Mostafa would come out and connect from 39 yards out and Frostburg would gain the lead it would not relinquish, 10-7 with 2:56 still left in quarter one.
Frostburg’s defense once again would shine on the Presidents next possession. On 2nd & 10 from their own 39, Rowse would hit WR Brandon Barnes for a 7-yard pass completion until Frostburg’s Zach Strand would cause Barnes to fumble the ball and it was recovered by Bobcats Shawn Magginson at Frostburg’s 49-yard line.
Nine plays and 61 yards plus the second quarter getting underway, and Frostburg turned that fumble into seven points as Morant had his second rushing touchdown of the game, this one was a 4-yard scamper and the lead grew to 17-7 with 11:43 to play in the first half.
Cox would throw the first of his three interceptions to kill a Bobcats drive and the Presidents would turn that into three points on PK Josh Hnat’s 27-yard field goal. Washington & Jefferson cut the lead to 17-10 and there was still 6:57 left on the clock.
Cox was intercepted a second time on the final play of the half, but nothing amounted from it and Frostburg went into halftime leading 17-10.
As what Washington & Jefferson did to open the game, Frostburg would almost literally repeat that performance as they took the ball to open up the second half on six plays and move 76 yards for their next score, Cox’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Andino and with only 2:30 coming off the clock, it was now 24-10.
Washington & Jefferson would use a costly Bobcats penalty (as it voided what would have been Rowse’s third interception at that time) to answer Frostburg’s scoring drive. Rowse found Hearst wide open in the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown pass and the lead was back down to seven, 24-17. There was still 9:18 left on the third quarter clock.
Both quarterbacks would then trade interceptions (It was the third for both Cox and Rowse), but the big difference was when Bobcats V. Perischetti intercepted Rowse, he would return his all the way down to the Washington & Jefferson 5-yard line.
No Frostburg touchdown would be scored as the Bobcats had 4th & goal at the 1-yard line but was called for delay of game, pushing them back five yards and Mostafa would hit from 23 yards out and the lead went back to 10 points, 27-17.
Next Presidents drive and for the fourth time, Rowse was picked off and it was Perischetti’s second in a row and he would return this one to the Presidents 24.
Three plays after the pick, Cox would connect with his receiver DiPaola on a 21-yard touchdown strike and now the Bobcats were comfortably ahead 34-17.
As the fourth quarter got underway, Frostburg’s RB Gavin Lavat broke open a 30-yard touchdown run of his own and it was turning into a major laugher, with the Bobcats now up by 24 points, 41-17.
Washington & Jefferson’s last score came on the next drive as Rowse would throw a 9-yard touchdown pass to WR Jesse Zubik. They made the decision to go for the 2-point conversion, but it failed and with 11:08 left in the game, it was now 41-23 Frostburg.
Frostburg didn’t do much with the ball next time they had it and the Presidents were back on offense, starting their next drive at their 34 with 7:04 to work with.
But, a holding penalty would take Washington & Jefferson back 10 yards, then Rowse was sacked for a loss of another eight yards. On third down, Rowse did manage to hit WR Andrew Wolf with the ball but the the defense of Frostburg tackled him for a 2-yard loss and suddenly it was 4th & 30 on their own 13 and Burnett came out to punt. He would not be given the chance to do that as when the ball was snapped, it flew over his head and out of the end zone, resulting in a Frostburg safety and increasing the lead to 43-23.
Receiving the ball back, Frostburg would add a Mostafa 29-yard field goal and the Bobcats literally doubled up the Presidents at 46-23.
Washington & Jefferson had one final chance but Rowse’s pass on 4th & 5 at the Bobcats 39 was incomplete and Frostburg ran off the final 54 seconds.
What was an at-large bid by the NCAA Division III Men’s Football committee has paid huge dividends for Frostburg. Wittenberg is the second most successful Division III football program and Washington & Jefferson just happened to be the third most successful program and if this dream run couldn’t have one final hurdle waiting for Frostburg State in the quarterfinals, take this … their opponent, Mount Union (12-0) is the MOST successful Division III football program of all time!
As of right now, the date and time of their quarterfinal game is TBD.