NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Christopher Newport and Frostburg State combined to turn the ball over eight times Saturday night, and the 11th-ranked Bobcats escaped POMOCO Stadium with a 33-30 victory over the Captains. The New Jersey Athletic Conference win, the 12th straight for Frostburg State after the Bobcats won their final nine games a year ago, improved FSU to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the NJAC. For the Captains, the defeat was the first for new Head Coach Art Link, who had started the 2017 campaign with back-to-back triumphs.
"It's a tough one that's for sure," Link said following the seesaw battle. "They made some big plays and we made some mistakes. I'm proud of our guys for the way we battled and our overall effort, now we've got to get back to work and get ready to head back on the road."
A crowd of 3,323 watched the game that featured five lead changes, four fumbles lost and four interceptions. The Bobcats pulled out the victory by scoring a touchdown with just 2:23 to play in the fourth quarter as junior quarterback Connor Cox hit his wide-open tight end Christian DiPaola on a 23-yard scoring strike for the deciding touchdown. FSU's defense then shut down the Captains on the ensuing drive, posting two sacks of CNU quarterback K.J. Kearney, to run out the clock for the win.
Kearney again put up impressive numbers for the Captains with four touchdown passes, completing 21 of 34 attempts for 319 yards. He has now thrown ten scoring passes in the first three games of the season and suffered his first interception of the season when he was picked off by FSU's Josh Washington in the third quarter.
The Captains, however, failed to establish any ground game, as Frostburg State's defense held CNU to minus eight yards on 24 rushing attempts for the night. Bobcats senior defensive lineman Niles Scott recorded seven tackles, including two sacks, and four tackles for lost yardage. He also blocked a CNU field goal attempt.
The Captains opened the scoring on a 42-yard field goal from freshman Ben Garbarini in the first quarter before the Bobcats posted back-to-back touchdowns to grab a 14-3 advantage. Kearney hit Joshua Davis with a 15-yard scoring pass in the final minute of the first quarter to pull CNU to within four, 14-10, at the end of the first frame.
Frostburg State added to the lead with a 41-yard field goal from Hassan Mostafa in the second quarter to make it a 17-10 game. Christopher Newport responded with a ten-yard scoring strike from Kearney to senior Khiry Weaver to tie the game at 17-17. Mostafa would then drill a 30-yard field goal on the first half's final play to re-claim the lead for the Bobcats, 20-17, at the intermission.
CNU scored the only points in the third quarter thanks to Kearney's third touchdown pass of the night, a nine-yard connection with Davis for his second score of the night. FSU went back ahead early in the final stanza on a Jamal Morant one-yard scamper, his second scoring run of the evening, grabbing a 26-24 lead for the Bobcats. Christopher Newport would jump ahead again less than three minutes later on a 25-yard scoring pass from Kearney to senior tight end Danny Mattson to give the Captains a 30-26 lead that would hold for over nine minutes of the final quarter before the Bobcats final scoring drive to claim the victory.
Davis led the CNU receiving corps with six grabs, two for scores, and 77 yards. Sophomore Cole Blais made four catches for 49 yards. Christopher Newport's defense was led by senior linebacker Brennan Gary, who registered 14 tackles and also intercepted a pass. Senior Tyrell Noel made his third interception in as many games, and senior Justus Drakeford also picked off a pass. CNU recorded four sacks, led by senior Chris Coggins with a pair. The Bobcats have now won all four meetings with the Captains in the series, and the four games have been decided by a total of just 21 points.