Powerful ODU visits Towson Saturday night

October 19, 2012 | WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Coming off a 24-19 victory over the University of Maine, Coach Rob Ambrose and the Tiger football team will host explosive Old Dominion University (5-1, 2-1) at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium in a Colonial Athletic Association game on Saturday night, October 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Another large crowd is expected at Unitas Stadium as Towson University celebrates T-Club Night. Saturday night’s game will also be the Tigers’ “Black Out” game with fans encouraged to wear black to support the Tigers.

The game will also be aired on the Tigers’ web site, www.TowsonTigers.com with Spiro Morekas and Ron Meehan calling the action. The Tigers’ internet broadcast also features a one-hour pre-game show.

Towson and ODU will be meeting for the second time on Saturday night. A relatively-new program, ODU is starting its fifth season as a varsity program. Under the direction of Coach Bobby Wilder, ODU has compiled an impressive 32-9 record.

Saturday night’s game is a matchup of the top passing team in NCAA FCS against one of the top defensive teams in FCS. Led by sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke, ODU averages an amazing 49.2 points per game. Heinicke leads the nation by averaging 420 passing yards per game. He has completed 185 of 277 passes for 2,520 yards with 23 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Senior Nick Mayers is ODU’s top receiver with 30 receptions for 585 yards and eight touchdowns while sophomore Antonio Vaughan has 29 catches for 436 yards and four TD’s.

ODU opened its season with five consecutive wins. After wins over Duquesne (57-23), Hampton (45-7) and Campbell (70-14), the Monarchs came from behind to edge New Hampshire, 64-61. In the win over UNH, Heinicke passed for an NCAA record 730 yards.  After a 45-37 win over Richmond, ODU was upset by Villanova last week, 38-14.

While facing one of the toughest schedules in FCS football, the Tigers have a 3-3 record. Among their losses are setbacks to a pair of FBS teams, Kent State and Louisiana State. Those two teams have a combined record of 11-2.

“I like the way we are playing right now,” says Coach Ambrose, the Tigers’ fourth-year coach. “Against Maine, we had a much better team effort in all three aspects of the game. We re-focused last week and came out with a good result. We did throw the ball more than usual but that was due to Maine. They came in here wanting to stop the run so we took advantage of the chances to throw.”

Towson counters with one of the top defensive units in NCAA FCS.. After six games, the Tigers are ranked second in the nation in pass defense, allowing 139 yards per game. Allowing 285.3 total yards per game, the Tigers are ranked fifth in the nation in total defense. Towson also leads the CAA in total defense.

“The best thing about our defense is that we have a team approach,” says Ambrose. “Everyone is playing together and working hard. They are doing a very good job.”

Five different Tigers have made at least 30 tackles this season. Sophomore cornerback Tye Smith leads the Tigers with 39 tackles and four pass breakups while junior linebacker Monte Gaddis is second on the team with 38 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for lost yardage. Freshman linebacker Bryton Barr has made 37 tackles and leads the Tigers with two fumble recoveries.

Senior safety Jordan Dangerfield, a Pre-Season All-American, has made 35 tackles with three pass breakups. Junior linebacker Telvion Clark, a transfer from Virginia Tech, has made quite an impact on the defense. He has 34 tackles, fifth on the team.

Senior quarterback Grant Enders leads the Tigers’ offense. In the Tigers’ win over Maine, he accounted for 358 yards of total offense. Enders is fifth in the CAA as he averages 239.3 yards per game.  He has completed 106 passes in 166 attempts for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns. He is also the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 321 yards on 55 carries, a 5.8 average. He has scored two touchdowns.

Sophomore Terrance West leads the Tigers with 533 rushing yards. He has also scored a team high eight touchdowns.

Last season, the Tigers and the Monarchs met in a classic college football game. In a game with four lead changes, Towson came from behind in the fourth quarter to win, 39-35. Enders threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to senior Tom Ryan with 1:07 remaining on a fourth down-and-29 play, putting Towson ahead. Against ODU, Enders threw for a career high 314 yards and two touchdowns.

Towson won the 2011 CAA championship with 7-1 CAA record. ODU tied for second in the CAA with a 6-2 mark. Both teams advanced to the NCAA FCS playoffs.

After hosting Old Dominion on Saturday night, the Tigers are back on the road for two more CAA games. On Saturday, October 27, Towson visits Villanova for a 3:30 contest. On November 3, the Tigers visit Delaware.

TIGER TALES:  Ryan became the 20th player in the history of the Tiger football program with 100 career catches when he had four receptions for 85 yards against Maine … He enters Saturday’s game with 100 receptions for 1,193 yards and six touchdowns.

Towson is ranked fourth in NCAA FCS in average time of possession … Towson averages 34:10 in time of possession this year … Defending national champion North Dakota State is ranked first (34:44) … To date, the Tigers have run 411 offensive plays while their opponents have 354 plays … Towson is also outgaining its opponents in total yards, 2,309 yards to 1,712 yards … The Tigers have also rushed for 1,194 yards while allowing 878 yards.