Frostburg's big plays, luck aren't enough to halt W&J

November 29, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

FROSTBURG -- For much of their season, the Frostburg State Bobcats lived by the big play and seemingly took advantage of every bounce of the football.

Saturday, the Bobcats came up short in both areas against a larger, more experienced Washington & Jefferson team.

The Presidents, showing the poise of a team in its sixth straight Division III playoff, made the biggest plays to secure a 28-7

victory. And the Bobcats (10-2), besides caving in against the Presidents' relentless defense, ran out of luck.

First, eight hours of heavy rain turned the field into a huge puddle by kickoff, reducing the Bobcats' decided speed advantage. Second, Washington & Jefferson survived two botched snaps at the line of scrimmage by recovering both fumbles. Third, although Frostburg State committed only three penalties, one of them probably killed whatever momentum the Bobcats would have needed to pull off a 14-point comeback in the second half.

"In any football game, there are usually four or five plays that really make the difference," Bobcats coach Mike McGlinchey said. "That [the penalty] was a huge play."

It happened early in the third quarter, with the Bobcats struggling to cut the Presidents' 21-7 lead. Washington & Jefferson forced a punt from midfield on the Bobcats' opening possession of the half. Return man Chris Wisvari mishandled the kick at the 20, took a crunching hit from Jim Trapani and watched the Bobcats recover his fumble at the W & J 15.

But officials ruled that Trapani interfered with Wisvari by not allowing him enough room to receive the punt, and Washington & Jefferson took over at its 21.

"I was running, and I saw him [Wisvari] not signal for a fair catch, and all I wanted to do was hit him," Trapani said. "I didn't know where the ball was, but I knew it was close. We could have had the crowd and the momentum on our side.

"And if we'd scored, our offense would have been really confident. We felt confident at halftime. We didn't think they were outplaying us or overmatching us."

AWhich is what the Presidents did for the rest of the second half, when they kept the Bobcats out of Washington & Jefferson territory. Frostburg State managed two first downs and 33 yards, by far its worst half of the season.

The Washington & Jefferson defense also made a huge play in the second period. After Frostburg State had scored to trim the Presidents' lead to 14-7, the Bobcats were driving inside the Presidents' 30, their prospects boosted by a 23-yard pass play from Gil Telleria to Trapani. But on fourth down, Telleria's pass to Trapani was broken up by Taj Lewis.

The Presidents then made the game's critical statement by driving 73 yards, ending the march with a 38-yard touchdown from quarterback Jason Baer to tight end J. J. Jarosinski for a 21-7 lead.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats defense had its hands full with the Presidents' gigantic offensive line. It opened wide holes for tailback Vince Botti to rush for 129 yards. It gave Baer time to complete six of 13 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns.

"It was more size than talent," said junior nose tackle Joe Holland, the City College graduate who made 10 tackles. "They weren't blowing me off the ball. I've played against better linemen. But they were just so big."

Their dream season ended, the Bobcats found solace in their accomplishments. Frostburg State had never won 10 games in a season or made the Division III playoffs before this season. It did all of that after the death of beloved assistant coach Lawren Williams in a car accident less than two weeks before the season opener.

"I've been coaching a long time, and it doesn't always happen that you get to work with special people. These are special people," said McGlinchey, who took a Division III team to the playoffs for the fourth time in seven years. He finished his second season at Frostburg State with a 16-5-1 record.

"I expect us to be great from first day we stepped on the field," he said. "I never think that I'm not going to make the playoffs, and I never think I'm not going to win the national championship. Right now is the first time I've thought that way all year."

The Bobcats also were able to make history with a team of BTC youngsters. They will lose eight seniors. Sixteen starters are expected to return.

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