FROSTBURG — Senior quarterback Will Brunson tossed a pair of touchdowns in his Frostburg State University debut and the Bobcat defense came up with some key stops at crucial times. However, the Bobcats' debut in the NCAA Division II ranks came up just short as West Virginia State scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to defeat host FSU, 20-17, Thursday in the season opener for both teams.
The Bobcats (0-1, 0-1 MEC) hung tough with the Yellow Jackets and led midway through the third quarter.
FSU rebounded from an early 8-0 deficit when Brunson tossed a 38-yard scoring pass to junior Dervonn Holton with 1:02 showing in the first quarter that pulled the score to 8-7. The drive was the longest scoring march of the night for the hosts as they covered 85 yards in eight plays.
Junior kicker Jeremy Harrison knocked home a 23-yard field goal midway through the second quarter as Frostburg assumed a 10-8 lead.
Frostburg, which carried that 10-8 cushion into halftime, tacked on a TD at 10:25 in the third when Brunson connected with junior Lincoln Ikwubuo for a 14-yard scoring pass and a 17-8 lead.
From there, the Yellow Jackets added a 31-yard field goal in the third, a safety early in the fourth and they scored the game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard Isiah Scott reception from quarterback Austin Hensley with 3:57 to play.
Frostburg was outgained in total yards 517-373, but the Bobcat defense did its part to keep the score close.
Following W.Va. State's field goal in the third, Frostburg forced the Jackets into turnovers on their next three possessions. W.Va. State fumbled the ball away at the FSU one, the Jackets again put the ball on the turf on their next possession on first down and FSU forced the visitors to turn the ball over on downs after a second fumble at the Bobcat one.
In the end, Hensley's touchdown toss handed the Yellow Jackets the win.
Brunson finished the night 14-of-24 passing for 202 yards and two scores. Junior Gavin Lavat just missed the century mark out of the backfield as he ran 22 times for 99 yards. Junior Terrell Brown led the receivers with six receptions for 98 yards, while classmate Ikwubuo caught three passes for 47 yards and one score.
Junior Avery Thurman led the Bobcat defense with 11 tackles, including 2.0 for loss with a breakup and forced fumble. As a defense, Frostburg posted 7.0 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.
The Bobcats return to action next Saturday at Concord for an MEC showdown at 1:00 pm.