Towson looks for first ever FCS championship Saturday in Frisco

January 03, 2014 | WNST Staff

TIGERS TO FACE No. 1 NORTH DAKOTA STATE FOR NATIONAL TITLE

Tigers Seek To End Bison’s 23-Game Winning Streak

FRISCO, Tex. – Seeking their first national championship, Coach Rob Ambrose and the No. 5 Towson University football team will try to complete their magical playoff run when the Tigers face two-time defending national champion North Dakota State in the NCAA FCS championship game at Toyota Field on Saturday, January 4 at 2:00 p.m. (EST).

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Anish Shroff and Kelly Stouffer calling the action.

The Tigers, who are 13-2 on the season, will be trying to end the Bison’s 23-game winning streak. The Tigers, who have won 16 of their last 18 games, earned a berth in the championship game with NCAA FCS playoff wins over No. 9 Fordham, No. 2 Eastern Illinois and No. 3 Eastern Washington.

Although this is not technically a road game, the Tigers have been an outstanding road team. Towson has a 9-0 record on the road this season, the best mark in college football. Northern Illinois has the second-best record with a 7-0 road mark.

In fact, Towson has won 12 consecutive road games dating back to last season.

The Tigers’ road to the NCAA FCS championship game has included victories at Eastern Illinois and Eastern Washington, two of the top three teams in the nation. The Tigers have won their last five games in a row. Dating back to last season, the Tigers have won 16 of 18 games.

North Dakota State, now 14-0 on the year, has the top defense in FCS football and presents the toughest opponent that Towson has played since the Tigers visited Louisiana State in September, 2012.

“North Dakota State is perfect,” says Coach Ambrose. “It’s not just their record. Their program is perfect. Looking for holes on their offense or defense or special teams, they don’t have them. The 11 players they put on the field are as good, if not better at their positions, than anybody else in the country.

“There’s a reason that they’re undefeated and have not lost a game in no-one-knows-how-long. They have resources, they have a following, and they are consistent. They are the Ivan Drago of I-AA football. They are perfect.”

Ambrose’s reference to Ivan Drago refers to a boxer in the movie “Rocky IV.” Played by actor Dolph Lundgren,“Drago” was the behemoth from the Soviet Union who compiled a 100-1-0 record as an amateur, boasted a punching power that was three times as devastating as the average boxer’s, and was trained as the top physical specimen in his sport.

The Tigers are led by All-American running back Terrance West (Northeast H.S./Baltimore, Md.), who has set NCAA FCS single season records with 2,410 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. In the Tigers’ 49-39 quarter-final win over Eastern Illinois, West scored five touchdowns and ran for an NCAA FCS playoff record with 354 rushing yards.

West runs behind an impressive offensive line that is led by senior tackle Eric Pike (DuVal H.S./Lanham, Md.). A four-year starter at left tackle, the 6-5, 298-pound Pike will be starting his 50th career game when the Tigers face North Dakota State. Senior tackle Randall Harris (DuVal H.S./Landover, Md.), senior guard Anthony Davis(Clover Hill H.S./Richmond, Va.) and senior center Doug Shaw (Loyola Blakefield H.S./Woodbine, Md.) lead a rushing offense that averages just under 250 yards per game and has scored 54 rushing touchdowns.

The Tigers’ running game will be tested by a North Dakota State defense that leads the nation by allowing only 11.6 points per game and 90.2 rushing yards per contest. The Bison are ranked second in NCAA FCS, allowing 247.5 yards of total offense per game.

Senior quarterback Peter Athens (Huntingtown H.S./Huntingtown, Md.) has played very well in the post-season. In three NCAA FCS playoff games, he has completed 29 of 37 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He has an amazing passer rating of 250.11 in the post-season. Athens, who left the Eastern Washington game with an injury, has completed 228 of 353 passes for 3,198 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.

Senior linebacker Telvion Clark (Granby H.S./Norfolk, Va.) leads the Tigers with 139 tackles, a mark that places him fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association. Clark has forced five fumbles and has three fumble recoveries.

During their post-season run, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by a 132-98 margin while North Dakota State has a 138-35 advantage in its three playoff games.

TIGER TALES:  This is the second time that Towson and North Dakota State have met in an NCAA post-season game … In 1983, the Tigers dropped a 24-17 decision to the Bison in the quarter-finals of the NCAA Division II playoffs … The Bison went on to win the national championship.

Towson is the sixth different CAA team to reach the NCAA FCS championship game … Delaware has reached the finals four times and has a 1-3 record … Former CAA member Massachusetts reached the championship game three times and won the 1998 title … James Madison (2004), Richmond (2008) and Villanova (2009) won the national championship in their only appearance in the finals.

Both Towson and NDSU opened their seasons with wins over NCAA FBS teams … The Tigers beat Connecticut while the Bison beat Kansas State.

Towson has already shattered the school record for wins in a single season … Until Towson won 13 games this year, no Towson team had ever won more than 10 games.

In his fifth season as the Tigers’ coach, Ambrose has a winning record as the Towson coach … He enters the NCAA FCS championship game with a 32-28 record as the Tigers’ coach … However, he was 3-19 after two seasons … Over the last three years, he is 29-9.

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