SALISBURY -- Frostburg State was unstoppable in a 39-14 rout of Salisbury State yesterday, and it's hard to imagine what the Bobcats will be capable of when quarterback Mike Jones is completely healthy.
A junior from Capitol Heights in Prince George's County, Jones injured his right wrist two weeks ago. He played last week, but didn't practice until the Bobcats began preparing for the Sea Gulls. His throwing is still limited, but his ability to follow two guards, run an option and freeze a linebacker isn't. Just ask Salisbury State, which surrendered 415 yards on the ground yesterday.
"Mike played better because he's healthier, but he still doesn't have his passing touch," Bobcats coach Dennis Riccio said. "He ran the option better because he could pitch running both ways."
Frostburg State (3-1) led by 20-0 midway through the second quarter and ended the Sea Gulls' brief hopes of a comeback when Ricky Green returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown and a 26-7 spread 13 seconds before halftime.
Salisbury State (1-2) still holds a commanding 13-6 lead in the series between the Division III rivals, but Frostburg State has won the past three. Big plays have figured in all of the Bobcats' recent wins, and Green's punt return was just one of many yesterday.
Frostburg State ground it out on its first possession, Jones completing a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 7-yard sprint around the left side for a 6-0 lead with 7:56 left in the first quarter.
After that, the Sea Gulls were stung in more unconventional ways.
Senior fullback Rory McTigue, who finished with 104 yards on 15 carries, scored on a 30-yard run after he was stopped twice at the 25.
McTigue's second touchdown, a 1-yard dive with 8:20 left in the half, completed an eight-play, 88-yard series that featured McTigue going 16 yards on a third-and-14 from the Bobcats' 8 and Jones finding a wide-open Warren Tweedy on a 54-yard bomb.
Green's punt return negated any momentum Salisbury State picked up when Len Annetta completed a solid drive by hitting Scott Cook for 11 yards and a touchdown. Cook, a senior tight end from Snow Hill, had six catches for 74 yards, as Annetta completed 13 of 24 for 194 yards.
The Bobcats' big-play show was at it again in the third quarter. Starting at its 11, Frostburg State needed three plays to increase its lead to 32-7 with 7:12 left in the third quarter. After two McTigue carries and a Sea Gulls penalty moved the ball to the 43, junior wingback Jimmy Carter went the final 57 yards on a sweep left, making a cut back at the 20.
A scramble by Jones on a 26-yard pass to reserve tight end John Walter, a freshman from Towson, highlighted Frostburg State's final scoring drive, a 10-play, 80-yard thrust. Jones' 10-yard run made it 39-7 with 11:42 remaining, and Riccio spent the Bobcats' last two possessions showcasing younger talent.
"I don't know if it's Frostburg's speed or our poor tackling, but I didn't expect this," Salisbury State coach Joe Rotellini said. "I expected better. We're a better football team than we showed."
Riccio says he has as talented a group of offensive backs as any in the nation, but the Bobcats offensive line also deserves credit. Center Paul Kumpar (Mount St. Joseph), guards Pat Pokorny (Loyola) and Kyle Alexander (Westminster), tackles Dave Snyder Mount St. Joseph) and Wayne Davis and tight end Vince Santore (Walkersville) have something to do with a unit that is averaging 33.6 points.
Frostburg State had the ball seven minutes more than Salisbury State, easing the pressure on a defense that starts just two seniors. Barry Amos, a senior end out of City, and Green, a junior safety, had eight tackles apiece. Sophomore cornerback Russell Williams was in on seven tackles, and Chris Robertson, a freshman linebacker from Poly, had six.