Frostburg nips mistake-prone Wesley 35-34

Wesley sophomore Isiah Mitchell runs back an interception and gets to the 10-yard line to set up a second half touchdown for the Wolverines. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Chip Knapp will probably remember his first loss as Wesley College’s head football coach for a long time.

And, quite frankly, there’s a handful of plays he’d rather just forget.

The No. 6 Wolverines made a few excruciating mistakes and No. 5 Frostburg State turned them into a crushing 35-34 loss for Wesley in their New Jersey Athletic Conference showdown at Miller Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Jamaal Morant (30 carries-162 yards) scored on a one-yard run with just 2:43 left and Jeremy Harrison’s ensuing PAT kick made the difference as the Bobcats (3-0 NJAC, 4-0 overall) ended an 11-game losing streak against Wesley (3-1 NJAC, 4-1 overall). Frostburg State’s last win in the series came in 2003.

The TD provided the last of five lead changes in the back-and-forth contest.

Alex Kemp of Wesley is hoisted high into the air by teammate Josh Hughes after he scored a touchdown on a long pass against Frostburg.

“The thing I appreciate about our team the most is the energy and enthusiasm they bring to each game,” said Knapp. “They played their hearts out. There was no question about the effort. … just too many mistakes.

“What goes through your mind is ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,’” he added. “There’s different plays that determine the outcome of a game. We were giving them opportunities that we didn’t need to give them.”

Topping the list of Wesley mistakes were the five turnovers they committed. The Wolverines also had a kick returner step out of bounds at his own two yard line, missed a PAT kick after their third touchdown and had a long, desperation Frostburg pass ricochet off a Wesley defender for a 37-yard TD catch.

The Wolverines also watched as a Bobcat scoring pass, where the receiver was initially called out of bounds, was changed to a TD after the referees talked about it.

But the final backbreaker may have been the 46-yard punt return that Wesley gave up to Frostburg’s Terrell Brown with 5:20 remaining. The play set up the Bobcats at the Wolverines’ 31.

Marcellus Pack of Wesley trying to fight his way past Frostburg’s Diron Accoo on a kickoff return.

Then, on a third-and-10, Frostburg quarterback Connor Cox scrambled 17 yards to the Wesley four. Two plays later, Morant scored from the one.

Wesley had one last chance after falling behind. But the Wolverines also started at their own five with only one timeout and 2:37 remaining.

They reached the 18 before a pass that went off a receiver’s hands was intercepted by the Bobcats’ Mike Morgan with 2:06 left to seal the win.

Wesley QB Khaaliq Burroughs completed 15-of-30 passes for 333 yards and three TDs but also had three interceptions.

“That was my message to the team in the pregame meal — taking care of the football — and we didn’t do it,” said Knapp. “We kept harping on it on the sidelines. But, when you play out there, people make choices and make decisions. They’re not always going to be good. But we just did too much of that.”

“It all comes down to our mistakes and penalties and bad decisions,” said senior receiver Alex Kemp. “It stinks to lose to Frostburg, especially on our field. But, at the end of the day, we’ve got other games to play. We’ve got to move on and get ready for next week.”

Kemp, the Caesar Rodney High grad, had another big game with five catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

On the game’s second play from scrimmage, he simply sprinted behind the Frostburg secondary and Burroughs hit him with an 80-yard TD pass. Then, in the fourth quarter, Kemp snared a pass along the sidelines and turned it into a 37-yard scoring pass that gave the Wolverines a 26-21 advantage.

After the Bobcats retook the lead, Dover High grad Marcellus Pack bolted 98 yards on a kickoff return to put Wesley right back ahead. Burroughs’ two-point conversion pass to Corterris Simpson gave the Wolverines a 34-28 lead with 11:23 left.

“We did make a lot of big plays,” said Knapp. “The defense, for the most part, made them work for everything they got.”

A big, physical Frostburg State team was able to run for 290 yards in the contest. It didn’t help that the Wolverines were playing their first game without standout defensive tackle Nick Glover (Dover), who is sidelined with a season-ending knee injury.

At one point, Wesley used four freshmen defensive linemen in the game.

“It was a physical game,” said senior lineman Vince Ebron, who moved inside from end to tackle. “It’s tough to swallow. But they (the Bobcats) laid their lives on the line, too. They came to play and so did we.

“The biggest thing we’re going to have to talk about — the one thing we’re going to have to preach — is ‘Let it go.’ We know it was a tough loss. We shouldn’t have lost. But, at the same time, it’s something we have to get by because we still have the rest of the season ahead of us.”

Extra points

Isiah Mitchell had a big interception and 51-yard return for the Wolverines. … Cappadonna Miller (11), Coray Williams (10) and Dante Daniel (10) all reached double digits in tackles for Wesley. … Frostburg had a slight 420-418 edge in total yards but a 25-16 advantage in first downs. … The Wolverines travel to Kean for a 1 p.m. game next Saturday

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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