By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
The College of New Jersey Lions football team played the Frostburg State University Bobcats on Sept. 8th for their home opener. The 8th-ranked Frostburg Bobcats were in the driver’s seat the entire game, winning 47-7, to the dismay of the Lions.
To say that the Lions were outmatched against Frostburg State would be an understatement. The Bobcats 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 was a mute point. Head coach Casey Goff talked the progress that the Lions needed to make defensively and 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 over-matched 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 clean energy, ready to answer the Frostburg’s early success with some of their own. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Donoghue completed to quick passes to junior wide receiver Jack Clevenger for a first down and some decent yardage to start the drive.
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 set out to prove why they were ranked eighth in the country. Leading the charge for them were their two senior running backs Grayson Boyce and Jamaal Morant.
Both Morant and Boyce were like runaway freight trains carrying defenders and powering through the Lions defense that seemed to have no answer for them. Goff talked about his team’s struggles and the quality of Frostburg’s unit.
“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 a long way to go. I think we knew that.”
The running back duo of Morant and Boyce totaled a sum of 154 yards on the ground. Frostburg totaled 192 yards on the ground as a team. For the Lions to find success, they need to sure up their run defense.
The Lions offense found little success throughout the game. Both Donoghue and freshman quarterback Dave Jachera both were under constant duress while playing. Both quarterbacks showed unwavering heart trying to make something happen for their team. Goff talked about his two young quarterbacks.
“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 Lions 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. Goff talked about his defense.
“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 a piece in an effort to trying to keep the game competitive.
Two of the lone bright spots for the Lions was 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 the kickoff, showing some true talent and speed. Goff talked about getting Bailey more involved in the upcoming games.
“We’ve been waiting for Ibn to do something like that,” Goff said. “He’s a kid with a 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 fall to 0-2 on the season, losing both of their first to games against quality opponents. Goff talked about his team and the heart that he saw from them.
“They just continue to fight,” Goff said. “I think the team still fights. Even when we are in a hole, they fight. Last week was the same thing. These kids want to fight. We are fighting more and more kids that want to step up and make a difference. We are going to continue to make changes. We just have to figure out a way to fight all four quarters. If we continue to fight we will continue to progress.”