By Maximillian C. Burgos
The Lions played Frostburg State University for their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 8. Frostburg State, ranked eighth in the nation by D3football.com, were in the driver’s seat the entire game, winning 47-7, to the Lions’ dismay.
Frostburg State came out swinging on their first drive, gashing the Lions’ defense with a long run and then burning them deep with a pass over the middle.
The Lions managed to hold Frostburg to a field goal on that first drive, but it had little impact. Head coach Casey Goff spoke about the progress that the Lions needed to make defensively and about the matchup overall.
“We still have a lot of headway to make on that side of the ball,” Goff said. “We need to play fundamental football. We were probably a little overmatched today, but it is what it is. We play who we play and we have to be ready to roll.”
The Lions offense came out on their first drive with a clear energy, ready to answer Frostburg State’s early success with some of their own. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Donoghue completed quick passes to junior wide receiver Jack Clevenger for a first down and some decent yardage.
Freshman running back Mark Pacini managed to gain five yards on the ground, continuing the Lions momentum, but it stalled after that.
After the Lions’ first drive, Frostburg State set out to prove why they were ranked eighth in the country.
“They are number eight for a reason,” Goff said. “We have a lot of young guys out there and we are not where we want to be yet. In a game like this, we can see some progress, but we have long way to go. I think we knew that.”
The Lions offense found little success throughout the game. Both Donoghue and freshman quarterback Dave Jachera were under constant duress while playing. Both quarterbacks showed unwavering heart trying to make something happen for their team.
“Until we can learn to protect either of them, we will continue to use both of them,” Goff said. “Number four (Jachera) can make more plays with his legs. Number seven (Donoghue) is a really intelligent kid back there. We have to find the balance between the both of them. But we need to learn how to protect them. That’s the first priority, learning to protect them.”
Donoghue finished the game 6-for-13 for 49 yards through the air with an interception. He also had 8 yards on the ground rushing. Jachera finished the game 4-for-7 for 28 yards through the air and 47 yards on the ground.
Freshman running back Mark Pacini had a better second game, rushing for 80 yards. Fellow freshman running back Aydon Chavis rushed for 14 yards and the Lions’ lone touchdown.
The defense was put in some difficult positions all game. In the second quarter alone, the Lions turned the ball over three times. Two of the three times left the defense in a tough position, having to defend a short field.
“We were put in some tough positions,” Goff said. “But we have to respond defensively. We have to decide that we are going to be that team that responds when the ball is turned over. We just got some things we have to iron out.”
Senior linebacker Max Busca and junior defensive back Xavier Santos both led the defense with nine tackles each in an effort to trying to keep the game competitive.
Two bright spots for the Lions were on special teams. Junior Zach Warcola managed to get four punts off for an average of 40.3 yards per punt. Senior wide receiver Ibn Bailey averaged 21.6 yards per return on kickoff, showing some true talent and speed.
“We’ve been waiting for Ibn to do something like that,” Goff said. “He’s a kid with tremendous amount of talent. He’s just gotta have the confidence to do that every week. I’m glad we are starting to see that from him. He made some tough plays and some tough catches. That’s progress.”
The Lions have fallen to 0-2 on the season, losing both of their first to games against quality opponents.
“I think the team still fights,” Goff said. Even when we are in a hole they fight. We are going to continue to make changes. If we continue to fight we will continue to progress.”
The Lions will attempt to bounce back from this loss when they face Wesley College on Friday, Sept. 14. The team will travel to Dover, Delaware to contest against Wesley College under the lights. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.