TOWSON, Md. – The Towson Tigers roared into their upcoming bye week with a 37-32 homecoming victory last Saturday against Colonial Athletic Association opponent Rhode Island, snapping a six game losing skid in the CAA.
The crowd was certainly entertained, with 41 points scored in the 4th quarter alone as the Tigers out-gunned the visiting Rams at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Senior quarterback Sean Schaefer willed the Tigers to victory with 373 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, both of which were season highs. In the win, Schaefer reached a career milestone, becoming the 20th FCS quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards in his career.
Towson took a 37-19 lead with about six minutes remaining in the 4th quarter after Schaefer threw a strike to tight end John Godlasky. After that play, the young Towson defense, which starts two red-shirt sophomore cornerbacks, began to melt down.
“We did a really good job for 3 quarters,” said Head Coach Gordy Combs. “When we went up 37-19 I told the defensive coordinator to make them earn points, and they did. We have a young secondary and they beat us on zone coverage.”
With about two minutes left on the clock, the Tigers found themselves defending from their own 29 yard line with a slim 37-32 lead.
The Towson defense dug their heels in, breaking up two consecutive pass plays on first and second down and pressuring Rams’ quarterback Derek Cassidy into rushing throws on third and fourth down. The Tigers took back possession with 1:05 remaining and were able to run out the clock.
Looking ahead, the Tigers have an extra week to prepare for the New Hampshire Wildcats, a formidable CAA opponent with a fearsome offense and stout rush defense. New Hampshire currently averages over 37 points per game, led by a strong rushing attack.
The three-headed monster of Chad Kackert, Robert Simpson, and Sean Jellison have combined to give the Wildcats the second-best rushing attack in the CAA behind only James Madison. This could pose a big problem for Towson, who currently ranks dead last in rush defense in the conference, giving up 225 yards per game on the ground.
When asked about their rush defense, Coach Combs responded by saying they are getting better every week. “We’ve done some things to improve the run defense,” he explained, “like moving Jordan Manning to the inside. We have a young defense, and we’re seeing some growing pains.”
The Wildcats are coming off of a heartbreaking 38-34 loss to William & Mary, where the winning touchdown was scored with just 22 seconds left to play on homecoming weekend.
While the Tigers are enjoying the bye, New Hampshire will bring the CAA’s first-ranked offense into Northeastern this weekend, led by a very accurate quarterback in sophomore R.J. Toman. On the season, Toman has completed 71% of his passes with 12 touchdowns against 6 interceptions.
Towson should look to continue to assault opponents through the air, as they have done all season. Considering New Hampshire has suffered mightily in pass defense this year, this game could turn into a shoot out.
Coach Combs stated that the success of the passing attack “depends on how well we protect Sean and defend against the pass rush.”
The Tigers will take on the Wildcats at New Hampshire next Saturday at 12 p.m. Don’t forget that WNST is the flagship for Towson Football. Tune into AM 1570 or WNST.net to listen to the game.