CUMBERLAND, MD —
Junior George Merrell tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead Johns Hopkins to a 24-21 win over Frostburg State in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Southwest Championship Game Saturday afternoon at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Merrell, who threw for 190 yards and added 21 more yards rushing, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
The Blue Jays (9-2), playing the first postseason contest in the program's 116-year history, opened the scoring on a 32-yard field goal by Chris Smolyn just 3:50 into the game and took an 11-0 lead when Merrell dove in from a yard out on the third play of the second quarter.
Steve Eno found a wide-open Jason Lehman with the two-point pass.
Frostburg State (6-5), which was making its sixth ECAC Championship game appearance, responded on its next possession.
After two incomplete passes from his 35, junior Grant Burrough hit fellow junior Anthony Long over the middle for a gain down to the Hopkins 22. Long fumbled at the end of the play, but Bobcat senior Tim Wilkins recovered at the Blue Jay 15.
Four plays later, Burrough found Wilkins in the end zone from six yards out to pull FSU to within 11-7.
Blue Jay linebacker Brian Cook recovered a Burrough fumble at the JHU 42 on the Bobcats' next possession, and Merrell went to work, marching his squad 58 yards in nine plays. He completed 5-of-8 passes on the drive, including a 10-yard scoring strike to Lehman to give Hopkins an 18-7 lead.
FSU came up empty on its next two possessions after moving deep into Hopkins territory. Junior Tim Pearson was stopped on a fourth-and-two run from the JHU 31, and Burrough was picked off by Mark Robinson at the Hopkins 1-yard line with 43 seconds left in the half.
Hopkins struck quickly in the second stanza, sparked by Adam Cook's 30-yard kickoff return which gave the Blue Jays the ball at their 44.
The visitors needed just six plays to move 56 yards, with Merrell completing the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brian Wolcott. The extra point attempt failed but JHU held a commanding 24-7 lead.
The Bobcats looked to rally in the fourth quarter and seemed to gather some energy after sophomore Billy Roy picked off a Merrell pass and returned it 25 yards to midfield. Burrough then connected with sophomore Adam J. Snyder on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it a 24-14 contest.
FSU gained more momentum when Travis Higgins pounced on an Adam Cook fumble at the Blue Jay 35 with 5:08 remaining. However, Bobcat junior Roy Olson caughed up the ball four plays later and Brian Cook recovered to end the threat.
The Bobcats got the ball back at their 35 with 2:36 to play, and Burrough completed a 13-play, 65-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Olson to bring FSU to within three, 24-21, with 18 seconds left.
Hopkins recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock to preserve the win.
JHU freshman T.J. Lyons carried 19 times for a game-high 112 yards as the Blue Jays compiled 213-53 advantage in rushing.
Burrough completed 24-of-52 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Snyder had eight catches for 88 yards.
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303