Recap of a Successful Bobcats Football Season
For the first time since 1993, the Frostburg State Bobcats football team finished the regular season with an overall record of 9-1. For the first time since 1996, they won in an ECAC Bowl, making their final record 10-1. It is just the second time in the 56-year history of the program that the Bobcats won 10 games in a single season.
The season started with a 31-10 win over Geneva at home on Sept. 3– Labor Day weekend. The next week, FSU suffered a crushing 43-7 loss at Wesley, who would eventually get into the NCAA DIII Playoffs. Fortunately, it was FSU’s only loss of the entire season.
The Bobcats would go on to win nine straight games to finish the season. They would win lopsided games against opponents like Southern Virginia, Kean, William Paterson, The College of New Jersey, Rowan, and Montclair State. FSU was also able to win close match-ups against Christopher Newport during Homecoming weekend, and in-state rival Salisbury in the 18th Annual Regents Cup. The latter victory marked Frostburg’s first win against the Sea Gulls since 2003.
In the Salisbury game, sophomore quarterback Connor Cox captured Mike McGlinchey MVP honors after totaling 266 yards on offense and three touchdowns. One of those TD’s turned out to be the game winner, as Cox found junior wide receiver Russell Neverdon in the corner of the end zone to give the Bobcats a 21-17 win and a share of the New Jersey Athletic Conference title.“It feels incredible because all of the hard work that we have put in has most definitely been worth every second of it,” Cox said on the win over SU. “For the game to be of that amplitude made it even more amazing. With all of the fans there, it being a blackout game against our rivals, and needing a win to win a share of the conference title. It doesn’t get much better than that.” Cox would finish the season passing for 1,864 yards and 17 TD’s.
Following the regular season, the Bobcats were awarded a bid to the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl game in Philadelphia where they faced St. John Fisher. The two programs were once conference rivals in the Empire 8 from 2011-14 before the Bobcats joined the NJAC in 2015. Frostburg would go on to crush the Cardinals 38-14, and they captured their first ECAC Bowl victory since beating Wilkes in 1996.
FSU head coach DeLane Fitzgerald did a lot to contribute to this team in his third year at the helm of the program, and he was named NJAC Coach of the Year for 2016. “Our staff and players are proud of everything we accomplished this past fall,” he said. “10-1 record, Conference Champions, Regents Cup Champions, Undefeated at Home, ECAC Bowl Champions, Top 25 ranking, etc. I’m especially happy for our 19 seniors; what a great way for them to end their college playing careers!”
Neverdon turned out to be Cox’s favorite target this season, as he tallied over 100 receiving yards in four games, and he finished the season with 49 catches for 845 yards and 10 TD’s. He was also a star on special teams as he finished the season with 175 kick return yards and 229 punt return yards. Neverdon was named First-Team All-NJAC as both a punt returner and a kick returner.
“It feels absolutely amazing to be recognized for anything in this league, let alone two different specialist positions,” Neverdon said. “Really give thanks to my conditioning coaches over the summer and my coaches on the staff that have helped me to be the returner I was this year.”
The Frostburg offense averaged 312.5 yards per game while rushing for 140.5 yards per contest thanks to players like Cox, Neverdon, and running backs Jamaal Morant and Rashawn Johnson. They also totaled 30 touchdowns.
In addition to the offense, the FSU defense was dominant this season too. The Bobcat defense is currently leading the nation in tackles for loss per game. They are also fifth in DIII in scoring defense (12.9), ninth in total defense (240.6), and eighth in team sacks (3.75).
Senior defensive end William Sewell was a key factor to this Bobcat defense as he earned multiple honors for the season, including NJAC Defensive Player of the Year, d3Football.com’s All-East Region team (along with junior Niles Scott), and most recently, the ECAC Division III South All-Star team (along with Scott and junior Jake Townsend). Sewell is tied for seventh in the nation with 22 tackles for loss, and is eleventh in the country in tackles for loss (2.0). He also made 78 total stops on the season with 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, and one pass breakup.
We will miss these 19 amazing seniors, and we look forward to another spectacular Frostburg football season in 2017.