Bobcats Cap Historic Football Season with Bushnell Bowl Game Win

One of the greatest seasons in the history of Frostburg State University football has come to an exciting end, as the Bobcats won the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Game on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. In their first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) bowl game victory since 1996, 24th-ranked FSU dismantled the 22nd-ranked Cardinals of St. John Fisher College by a score of 38-14.

Though Frostburg had amassed a regular season record of 9-1, including an eight-game winning streak to end the regular season, the Bobcats were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a berth in the NCAA Division III football playoffs. Instead, FSU received an invitation to conclude their season in one of the ECAC’s several post-season bowls.

Frostburg entered the Bushnell Bowl, which was played at the famous Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, coming off a thrilling victory against New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival Salisbury University in the regular season finale to win the 2016 Regents Cup and a share of the NJAC title.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals appeared to be a formidable opponent for FSU, coming into the bowl with an 8-2 record in 2016.  Frostburg State had faced the Cardinals several times from 2010-2014, when both schools were members of the Empire 8 Conference, but St. Johns Fisher had won every previous meeting between the two teams.

The Cardinals’ unbeaten streak against the Bobcats would come to a thundering end on a cold November night in Philadelphia.  Frostburg took a 7-0 lead with 6:40 left to play in the first quarter, when quarterback Connor Cox found wide receiver Russell Neverdon in the corner of the end zone on a 23-yard touchdown pass. Neverdon led the Bobcats in receiving yards on the night, registering 93 yards on four receptions.

St. Johns Fisher answered just after the start of the second quarter, with Cardinal Mike Collichio connecting with Dylan Harrington  on a 21-yard touchdown pass.  With the score tied at 7-7, it appeared FSU was in for a tight battle under the lights at Franklin Field.  However, following the game-tying touchdown from Harrington, the Bobcats would score the next 31 points to put the game far beyond the reach of the Cardinals.

Frostburg would score 21 unanswered points over the last 5:18 of the first half. Cox got the scoring going with a 20-yard touchdown run to cap off a 86-yard drive with 5:18 left in the second quarter.  Moments later, with 3:52 remained in the period, FSU’s Graylin Walker intercepted Cardinal quarterback Matt Naton, and took the pick to the end zone for a defense touchdown. Then, with just under a minute to go in the half, Cox connected with Jamaal Morant on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Morant also led the FSU offense on the ground with 72 yards rushing on 20 attempts. After one of five extra points on the night from kicker Isaac Robinson, the Bobcats entered the locker room at halftime leading 28-7.

After a slow start to the second half of play, Cox tossed his third touchdown pass of the game on the last play of the third quarter, launching a 47-yard bomb that found Austin Bonsall running into the end zone. Bonsall recorded 83 receiving yards in the game, and Cox finished the contest with 267 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. Robinson’s extra point gave the Bobcats a 35-7 lead, and his 41-yard field goal split the uprights with 11:07 remaining in the game to extend the scoring to a 38-7 FSU advantage.

The Cardinals would get on the scoreboard one final time in the game, with Tony Fusco scoring on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Naton. However, it was too-little-too-late for St. John Fisher, with the game ending in a dominant 38-14 Frostburg State victory.

While FSU’s offense put up big scores on offense, the Bobcat defense was nothing short of spectacular during the game as well. FSU held the Cardinals to -26-yards rushing, recorded 17 tackles for a loss, and sacked the St. John Fisher quarterback ten times.  Five of those sacks came from the bowl game’ MVP, FSU defensive end Jordan Procter, who set a school record of sacks in a single game with his performance. Josh Scales led the Bobcats with 11 tackles, and Lyle Fugate and Josh Washington added 10 and 9 tackles, respectively.

The Bushnell Bowl victory gave Frostburg State the second ten-win season in school history, and the football program a record-tying ninth straight win. The Bobcat’s triumph on the gridiron in Philadelphia was the culmination of a season that will not soon be forgotten by students, alumni, and fans of the FSU football program.

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