Playoff preview: Wittenberg hosts Frostburg State in first round

Bobcats making their second D-III playoff appearance


Whether they know it or not, the Wittenberg Tigers will play for the life of one of the most distinctive parts of Edwards-Maurer Field when they face Frostburg State in the first round of the playoffs at noon Saturday.

Not long after Wittenberg’s season ends, workers will tear down the press box overlooking the stadium. It’s part of the renovation project transforming Wittenberg’s athletic facility.

“That may be incentive to tank a game to see that thing come down,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham joked.

In the next breath, Fincham said, “For whatever it’s worth, it’s maybe not aesthetically pleasing, but it’s kind of a tradition at Witt. I’ll be said to see it go.”

RELATED: Wittenberg earns first-round home game

No. 12 Wittenberg (10-0) could postpone the press box’s demise for quite a while, depending on how it does in the playoffs. If it beats Frostburg State, it would play another home game in the second round against No. 14 Washington & Jefferson (10-0) or No. 21 Johns Hopkins (9-1).

Frostburg is a tough first-round opponent, however. The Bobcats lost 27-24 to No. 13 Wesley in the regular season. They were the runner-up in the New Jersey Athletic Conference behind Wesley. This is Frostburg’s second trip to the playoffs and the first since 1993.

“They’re a really good football team, obviously,” Fincham said. “They come from a good league. The first thing that jumps out to you when you look at the paper stuff is they lost to Wesley in overtime, and we all know Wesley is a bunch of card-carrying killers.”

RELATED: Wilson has been ‘dynamite’ for Wittenberg

This will be a matchup of top-25 defenses. Wittenberg ranks 23rd (13.3 points per game). Frostburg is tied for 15th (12.2). Frostburg is ninth in total defense (233.5). Wittenberg is 50th (304.0).

Junior quarterback Connor Cox leads the offense with 22 touchdown passes. The Bobcats led their conference in scoring (35.0 points per game). Wide receiver Sergio Andino has 10 touchdown catches. Jamaal Morant is the top runner with 703 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Offensively, they’re a pretty balanced group,” Fincham said. “They’re committed to running the ball. They play a number of backs who aren’t much different than Wabash’s. They’re big and physical up front. They’re committed to running the ball between the tackles.”

NCAC AWARDS: Witt lineman named top defender

For Fincham, the keys to victory are not turning the ball over and not giving up big plays. Wittenberg ranks tied for fifth in the country in turnover margin (plus 1.40 per game). Tackling well will also be important.

“I don’t think we tackled well this past week,” Fincham said. “I think it will be important to remain balanced and have success in the red zone on both sides of the ball. The way they play defense, I would assume it’ll be a lower-scoring game than what some people have grown accustomed to in the playoffs.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Tennessee Titans hire former Buckeye Mike Vrabel as coach
Tennessee Titans hire former Buckeye Mike Vrabel as coach

Mike Vrabel, a former standout offensive lineman with the Ohio State Buckeyes and former Buckeyes assistant coach, was hired Saturday as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Vrabel, who made the Ohio State All-Century team in 2000, and won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, retired from football and became a defensive assistant for Ohio...
No. 5 Wittenberg improves to 17-0 with rout of Allegheny
No. 5 Wittenberg improves to 17-0 with rout of Allegheny

The No. 5 Wittenberg Tigers rolled to an 87-58 victory Saturday over Allegheny in Meadville, Pa., improving to 17-0 and 10-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Wittenberg has won eight games in a row by double digits. This was its most lopsided victory in conference play since an 86-55 victory at Denison on Dec. 9. “I’m really proud...
Huskies earn third Pac-12 road win over Colorado; 3 things we learned
Huskies earn third Pac-12 road win over Colorado; 3 things we learned

The Washington Huskies beat the Colorado Buffaloes 72-62 on Saturday, improving their record to 14-6 overall and 4-3 in Pac-12 play while also snapping a 2-game losing streak. Here’s what we learned about Washington in its win: Coming into this year, the Huskies had lost 14-straight road games within the Pac-12. That narrative has...
South Carolina basketball: What Frank Martin said after the Tennessee game
South Carolina basketball: What Frank Martin said after the Tennessee game

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin met with reporters after the 70-63 loss to No. 21 Tennessee. Here’s what the Gamecocks coach had to say, after the Gamecocks dropped to 12-7 (3-4 SEC). “Unfortunately, we let a great opportunity slipped right through our hands. We were playing with fire with...
What Bill Self said after Kansas defends home court against Baylor
What Bill Self said after Kansas defends home court against Baylor

Kansas survived a thriller against Baylor at home on Saturday, winning 70-67. Malik Newman led the Jayhawks with 24 points, proving to be the exception on a night where Kansas struggled offensively. Here’s what Bill Self and others had to say about the team’s 6th win in Big 12 play: The post What Bill Self said after...
More Stories