FSU Football Soars to 35-7 Victory Over Wittenberg in 1st Round of NCAA Playoffs
Last Sunday, the Frostburg State players and coaches watched the NCAA DIII Playoff Selection Show, hoping that their school would be announced, and thankfully, it was. 15th-ranked FSU finished the season with a 9-1 record and received an at-large bid as they faced 10-0 Wittenberg University of the North Coast Athletic Conference Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Ohio. The Bobcats got the job done and upset the Tigers 35-7.
The first quarter was scoreless due to strong defense by both teams, but in the second quarter, junior wideout Sergio Andino took a punt 42 yards to the Wittenberg 23-yard-line. A few plays later, sophomore running back Gavin Lavat scored a touchdown from one yard out to put Frostburg up 7-0.
With 35 seconds left in the half, junior quarterback Connor Cox rolled to his right and found Andino in the end zone for a 17-yard score, extending FSU’s lead to 14-0.
On the first play of the second half, Tigers quarterback Jack Kennedy’s pass was intercepted by senior Aaron Gibson and returned wo the Wittenberg 17, which set up a two-yard score by junior tailback Jamaal Morant, increasing the rout to 21-0.
But the shutout ended a few minutes later when Kennedy completed a 2-yard TD pass to Liam Duncan, cutting the deficit to 21-7.
The Tigers attempted a comeback in the fourth when Kennedy launched a deep pass to Jack Tiffner for a 53-yard gain all the way inside the red zone, but were unable to convert on 4th and goal.
Midway through the fourth, the play of the game happened on FSU’s ensuing possession at their own 7 as they faked a punt and senior defensive back Dante Chinnery took it 93 yards to the house to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 28-7, much to the home team’s dismay.
Chinnery on the fake punt: “It felt great because two weeks ago we tried it against Kean and they got stuffed, mostly because of me, but they called it and I had the option, and Christian DiPaola, I just followed him and took it to the promise land, got a block downfield.”
After yet another stop on fourth down by the defense, Morant took the handoff and raced 61 yards to the end zone for the touchdown and the dagger.
“I was honestly thinking about taking time off, trying to get the first down,” Morant said. “The O-line was blocking very well. I don’t think I even had to make somebody miss, I just hit it, so I was gone.”
Through the air, Cox finished the day with 11-of-19 and passed for 116 yards and a TD, while on the ground, Morant ran for 168 yards and two scores on 26 carries and Lavat added 96 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
This was the seventh-straight game where Andino hauled in a TD pass. Andino finished the afternoon with four catches for 44 yards.
The defense was another big reason the Bobcats won this game, as they limited one of the nation’s most potent offenses to just 251 yards, including just 60 rushing yards.
FSU also forced three turnovers and held the Tigers on fourth down three times in the fourth quarter.
22 different Bobcats tackled Wittenberg players on the afternoon. Junior defensive back Josh Scales and sophomore linebacker Graylin Walker led the way with four tackles, while senior All-American defensive lineman, Niles Scott, posted three tackles, one tackle-for-loss, with a forced and recovered fumble.
“We are a great run defense,” head coach DeLane Fitzgerald said. “If you don’t double team Niles, he’s going to make a play.”
With the victory, Frostburg will head out to Pennsylvania next Saturday as they take on 10th-ranked Washington & Jefferson in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs. The game will take place at 12pm on Saturday November 25th.