FROSTBURG, Md. – Rivalry games always carry extra excitement and flair and the annual Regents Cup game between in-state rivals Frostburg and Salisbury has always provided plenty of drama, even down to the final matchup.
In a game filled with story lines and highlights, the Bobcats and Sea Gulls battled to yet another overtime thriller as FSU escaped with a 38-35 win in the final meeting between the two in-state schools.
Senior quarterback Connor Cox heaved a fourth down pass to sophomore Lincoln Ikwubuo for a 22-yard touchdown with 1:37 to play in the fourth and sophomore kicker Jeremy Harrison knocked home a 37-yard field goal in overtime as Frostburg rallied for their 14-straight win during the regular season.
Following Harrison's FG, Bobcat junior Paul Kumpar stripped Sea Gull quarterback Frank Pipich at the 25 and sophomore Avery Thurman pounced on the ball to seal the win.
The victory pushes Frostburg to 9-0 and marks the first time in program history that the Bobcats have finished the regular season with an unblemished schedule. The win also hands the Bobcats the '18 NJAC Title and league's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.
The win is the third-straight against the Gulls, who finish the regular season at 8-2 and 7-2 in the NJAC. The Bobcat win also ensures that the Regents Cup trophy will never return to the eastern shore.
Cox finished the afternoon as the Mike McGlinchey MVP for Frostburg after throwing for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Pipich, in his first collegiate start, captured MVP honors for Salisbury after rushing for 189 and two touchdowns and throwing for another score.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that featured four lead changes and numerous ties and the Bobcats emerged with a 21-20 lead at halftime after Cox found Ikwubuo for a 22-yard score with 58 seconds showing on the second quarter clock.
After a scoreless third frame, Pipich opened the fourth quarter with a three-yard TD run for a 28-21 Sea Gull lead. Senior tailback Jamaal Morant tied things at 28-28 with a seven-yard scoring run midway through the fourth.
On the ensuing SU possession, Pipich darted 80 yards up the middle for a touchdown and a 35-28 lead with 7:00 left.
Frostburg's game-tying touchdown was setup by a high snap that sailed over SU punter Trevor Skoglund's head and eventually ended up in FSU's hands at the Salisbury 25. Four plays later, Cox found Ikwubuo for the TD that sent the game into OT.
Frostburg finished the afternoon with 386 yards in offense, behind Cox's 215 yards through the air. FSU also ran for 171 yards behind Morant's 121 yards on 32 carries. Bobcat junior receiver Malik Morris hauled in five passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Salisbury ran for 341 yards on 53 attempts and was powered by Pipich's 189 yards and Kadarrius Campbell's 134 yards (14 carries).
On defense, Thurman and junior Wayne Palmer each posted 10 tackles. Thurman added a recovered fumble while Palmer posted a tackle for loss.
Frostburg now waits for Sunday afternoon's NCAA selection show to find out their opponent and location for the playoffs.
Notes: Frostburg will make its third NCAA Playoff appearance next Saturday … The Bobcats are now 15-2 in their 17 homes games … FSU has now won six straight at home … The FSU/SU matchup served as senior day for the Bobcats and the 13 student-athletes honored prior to kickoff are the winningest group of seniors in program history.