TOWSON, Md. – Seeking their 11th consecutive victory, Coach Rob Ambrose and the undefeated Towson University football team (6-0, 2-0) will face one of its toughest challenges of the season when the Tigers host No. 15 Villanova University (3-2, 2-0) in an important Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) game at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Ranked third in NCAA FCS this week, the Tigers will be celebrating Homecoming when they host the Wildcats.
The pre-season favorite to win the CAA championship, Villanova brings a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s night game. Last season, Towson and Villanova shared the CAA championship with New Hampshire and Richmond.
Saturday night’s game will be nationally-televised on the NBC Sports Network with Mike Corey and Anthony Herron calling the action.
The Towson-Villanova game will also feature the only two players ever to win the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in NCAA FCS football, junior Terrance West of Towson and sophomore quarterback John Robertson of Villanova. West was the inaugural Jerry Rice Award winner in 2011 while Robertson earned the award last season.
The Tigers come into Saturday night’s game with one of the top offensive teams and one of the top defensive squads in NCAA FCS. Averaging 40.8 points per game, the Tigers are ranked eighth in NCAA FCS. At the same time, Towson is allowing 16.8 points per contest, sixth in the nation.
Coach Ambrose knows that the Tigers will have their will be facing a serious challenge on Saturday night.
He says, “Villanova is an incredibly talented team and is extremely well-coached. Villanova isn’t just a great team. Villanova is a great program. Their quarterback is one of the best players in the league if not the country. Villanova has the ability to withstand injuries without missing a beat because they have such tremendous depth.”
The Tiger offense is coming off a school-record performance against New Hampshire. In the win over UNH, Towson set a school record with 731 yards of total offense.
Senior quarterback Peter Athens enjoyed the best game of his career in the win over UNH. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns. In six games this season, Athens has completed 98 of 154 passes for 1,332 yards and eight touchdowns. He has only thrown four interceptions and he has only been sacked three times.
The second-leading rusher in Towson history, West is enjoying the best season of his career. In six games, he has rushed for 886 yards on 154 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per attempt. He ranks fourth in NCAA FCS in rushing yards and leads the nation with 15 touchdowns. The leading-rusher in the CAA, he has run for more than 100 yards in five of six games and he has been honored as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week three times.
Named as the FCS National Co-Player of the Week by The Sports Network after his 238-yard game against New Hampshire, West is a leading candidate for the Walter Payton Award. He has been earned 10 weekly awards from the CAA in his career, a league record.
The Tiger defense, which is ranked 12th in the nation while allowing 301.8 total yards per game, has been led by senior linebacker Telvion Clark. Named as the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after the win over New Hampshire, Clark leads the Tigers with 55 tackles. He also ranks sixth in the CAA in tackles.
When the Tigers host Villanova, they will be trying to avoid the slow starts that have hurt them in the last two games. In their 35-21 win over Stony Brook, the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 first quarter deficit. They also trailed by 21-10 at the half. In their 44-28 win over New Hampshire, the Tigers spotted UNH a 20-3 first quarter lead before scoring 41 consecutive points.
Not surprisingly, the Tigers have been a second-half team all season. Towson has outscored its opponents by a 118-30 margin in the second half. In the third quarter, the Tigers own a 72-7 advantage. The only third-quarter touchdown that the Tigers have allowed came against Delaware State when Towson already had a 49-0 lead.
If the Tigers beat Villanova, they will tie the school record for consecutive wins, a mark set by the 1974 and 1975 Tigers.
After hosting Villanova on Saturday night, the Tigers will be back on the road next week when they travel to Albany.