FROSTBURG -- For one of the few times in recent years, Frostburg State didn't need to beat Waynesburg to maintain an undefeated season and get into the NCAA Division III playoffs. Those hopes were --ed long before yesterday's game.
What mattered most to the Bobcats were toppling an opponent that has given them trouble and making the last home game for coach Mike McGlinchey something special.
A loss wasn't supposed to figure in the equation, but it did. Unable to throw the ball or take advantage of good field position until late, Frostburg was turned away, 20-14, before 1,128 at Bobcat Stadium.
This one hurt more than usual. The Bobcats (5-4) wanted to give McGlinchey a win but fell short despite two fourth-quarter touchdowns that shrank a 20-0 deficit. They are down to their final chance, Saturday at Methodist (N.C.) College.
McGlinchey announced last week that he was relinquishing his duties as coach after the season for health reasons. He suffers from a neural muscular disorder that has been diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and said he wanted to do "what was best for team."
On yesterday's outcome, he said: "We could never get anything sustained. We'd get rolling, then they'd drop us for a loss. But there is no quit in our guys, and I'm really, really proud of that."
The Yellow Jackets (5-4) usually bring a mediocre record into their games with Frostburg then play at championship caliber. ,, It's one of the qualities that makes this rivalry so intense.
In 1990 and 1994, Frostburg was a combined 16-0-1 when it met Waynesburg, lost both times and didn't make the playoffs. The Bobcats opened the 1993 season with eight straight wins before being dealt a 24-22 loss but still earned their first playoff berth.
This year, the Bobcats were done in by a midseason slump, falling to weaker opponents Newport News and SUNY-Brockport. They had won two straight before yesterday but were victimized by a number of early mistakes and trailed 14-0 at halftime.
There were two procedure penalties on their first series. Then came an overthrown pass to split end Germaine Norman, who had no one in front of him along the right sideline. A potential interception deep in Waynesburg territory that bounced off the chest of linebacker Brad Wrobel. A collision between two Frostburg players on a kickoff return. A fumbled handoff on a reverse that the Yellow Jackets recovered on their 23.
Waynesburg capitalized. Freshman Rob La Cava took a pitch left and raced 62 yards for a touchdown with six minutes left in the first quarter. Then, sophomore quarterback Darren Elvey heated on a cold, blustery day, completing five passes during a 10-play, 72-yard drive. He lobbed a 6-yard pass to senior Steve Loya in the right corner of the end zone with 3:37 left in the half for a 14-0 lead.
It could have been worse. Elvey drove the Yellow Jackets to Frostburg's 19 with 10 seconds remaining, but Tom Butts' field-goal attempt fell short.
The Bobcats threw a scare into Waynesburg with a 15-yard touchdown run by E. J. Fuller and a 16-yard scamper by freshman quarterback Dominic Novak -- the latter with 5:20 remaining -- and a two-point conversion by Tom Bellino. They had the ball on the Yellow Jackets' 47 with 3:48 left but couldn't pick up a first down.
Elvey, who was intercepted twice in the third quarter, has thrown for 1,649 yards this season, including 157 yesterday. At 6 feet 3, he stands tall in the pocket. And he was a big nuisance to the Bobcats.
"He's the best we've seen," McGlinchey said. "He has, by far, the best release and quickest throw we've seen this year."