Lions ill-prepared for Frostburg’s cold front

By Connor Smith

News Editor

On Oct. 17, 2015, the College’s football team lost its matchup with Frostburg State University which brought the team’s record to 0-4 in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play. In the weeks that followed, the College bounced back and won its final four matchups to cement a 4-4 conference record.

A year later, the Lions (0-5 in NJAC) are in need of another miraculous comeback after its Saturday, Oct. 15, loss to Frostburg, 34-7.

“I’ve always believed that (we can turn things around),” said interim head coach Rocky Hager. “I’d like to see us continue to build on the offense. We played some younger players that are some guys that need some growing to help us, and that will add to the depth.”

The Lions entered Saturday’s action on the heels of a 41-0 shutout loss to Wesley College, whereas Frostburg recently thrashed William Paterson College 23-0 to extend its overall record to 4-1.

“I felt like we matched up better than we did by the scoreboard,” said Hager. “The turnovers were a big part of that.”

The Lions received the opening kickoff and began a promising drive. Junior running back Chad Scott helped lead his team to an early first down and Junior quarterback Trevor Osler found junior tight end Chase Vena to set up a 2nd-and-5 at the Frostburg 47-yard line.

Mattonelli catches a touchdown pass from Osler. (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)
Mattonelli catches a touchdown pass from Osler. (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)

The drive was cut short when a wayward pass found its way into the arms of a Frostburg defender. The Lions pushed back the visitors, in large part due to a sack by senior defensive lineman Abdelrahman Ragab for a loss of 10.

Osler began the drive at the 8-yard line and found Vena on 3rd-and-12 to push the Lions to the 22-yard line. After another third-down conversion, the lost field position on the ground to force another 3rd-and-long.

A Frostburg defender made a good read, which led to another costly interception and the end of a promising drive for the Lions. From thereon, the Lions struggled to drive with the same confidence as before.

“We started out like gangbusters,” Hager said. “They started plugging their linebacker to seal off the one gap and force us into another. That’s how they were able to hold us off. We were able to run it again later in the ballgame, but we can’t turn over the football three times.”

This time, Frostburg translated the turnover into a score and a 7-0 lead.

“The things that we did in the first half with the turnovers left us in a less than enviable position on the defensive side,” Hager said. “On the defensive side, they discovered a couple things that we’re doing and made a few adjustments, and we didn’t adjust to their adjustment enough.”

Frostburg extended its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter, following a handful of three-and-outs by the Lions.

The Frostburg continued their offense in the second quarter. A 40-yard conversion extended the lead to 21-0, and they later tacked on a field goal to end the half with a 24-0 lead.

In the third quarter, another turnover — this time on a fumbled punt return — gifted Frostburg good enough field position for a 30-yard field goal and a 27-0 lead.

The Lions eventually scored on a pass to senior wide receiver Jeff Mattonelli. Senior kicker Brian Nagy scored the extra point.

According to Hager, the many mishaps were unfortunate, given the team’s apparent preparation.

“The irony is it’s all stuff we work on very diligently, each and every day,” he said. “I’m sure Trevor Osler feels a little better about how things are fitting together.”

Frostburg tacked on another touchdown, and the clock winded down to deliver them a 34-7 victory.