Towson Football Ready for Top-8 Showdown at Maine
The Game: #8 Towson (2-0, 0-0 CAA) at #7/9 Maine (1-1, 0-0 CAA)
When: Sat., Sept. 14 – 7 p.m.
Where: Harold Alford Sports Stadium – Orono, Maine
Online Broadcast: FloFootball.com
—-Broadcasters: Jim Churchill (PxP), Bryan Stackpole (Analyst)
Radio: CBS Sports Radio 1300
—-Broadcasters: Spiro Morekas (PxP), Gordy Combs (Analyst)
Series: Maine leads 8-6
ORONO, Maine – The Towson University football team will begin conference play in a big way, heading north to challenge reigning CAA champion Maine on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. for a top-8 FCS battle.
The game at Harold Alfond Sports Stadium will be broadcast live on FloFootball.com, with Jim Churchill and Bryan Stackpole on the call. The game will also be aired on the radio on CBS Sports 1300 with Spiro Morekas and Gordy Combs.
This is the first time since the NCAA FCS Championship game on Jan. 4, 2014, #5 Towson vs. #1 North Dakota State, where the Tigers will play a top-10 game. In the D-I era, the Tigers have never played in a contest between two top-10 teams in the regular season.
Towson enters the game ranked #8 in each the STATS FCS and AFCA Coaches Polls. Maine stands at #7 and #9 in the polls respectively.
This is the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) season opener for both teams. Towson is coming off a 42-3 home win over North Carolina Central to stand at 2-0, while Maine fell on the road at Georgia Southern 26-18 for a 1-1 record.
In a series that dates back to 1979, Maine narrowly leads all-time 8-6, winning the last game 35-28 in Towson on Nov. 3, 2018. Towson won the last game in Orono, a 10-7 victory on Nov. 7, 2015, and has been the victor in three of the last five contests.
TOWSON RISES TO TOP-8 OF NATIONAL POLLS
Following a dominant victory over N.C. Central, Towson rose a spot in a national poll, holding to #8 in the STATS FCS Poll and going up to #8 in the AFCA Coaches Poll.
These are the highest rankings that Towson has had since the 2014 preseason and 2013 regular season. Towson was ranked in the top-12 in the 2019 preseason, the first preseason ranking since 2014.
In total, five CAA teams are in each top-25 poll: James Madison (#2 STATS, #2 AFCA), Maine (#7, #9), Delaware (#18, #t18) and Villanova (#22, 23), plus Elon is at #25 in the STATS poll.
FLACCO, SIMPSON PLACED ON WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST
Two Towson players, Tom Flacco and Shane Simpson, have been placed on the Walter Payton Award preseason watch list. The Walter Payton Award is given to the top offensive player in FCS football.
Flacco and Simpson were two of 25 players across all of FCS, and two of three in the CAA, to be honored on the preseason watch list.
Each were named to the preseason watch list for the first time. Flacco was added to the 2018 watch list in October of last season, finishing fifth in the final voting and first among 2019 returners.
In the history of the honor, Dave Meggett won the award in 1988. Flacco, Terrance West (2013), Joe Lee (1999) and Tony Vinson (1993) have all been finalists, all finishing in the top-10.
TIGERS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA…..
After a strong 2018 season, four Tigers earned preseason All-America recognition from the various publications.
Aidan O’Neill was selected as Preseason All-America by Athlon Sports, Phil Steele and STATS, being top-seven in all of FCS last year in field goals per game (1.83) and points scored per game (9.0).
Two places, STATS and Phil Steele, named Tom Flacco a preseason All-American. He ranked top-five in FCS in total offense (332.8) and passing yards (270.9) per game in 2018.
Shane Simpson was chosen as a STATS All-American at athlete. Last year, the now-redshirt senior was second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 on the year.
Shane Leatherbury picked up preseason All-America honors from Phil Steele. The redshirt senior wide receiver ranked top-30 in receptions per game and receiving yards last year.
….. AND FIVE PICKED PRESEASON ALL-CAA
Led by Tom Flacco being selected as the league’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, five Tigers were voted to the 2019 Preseason All-Conference Team.
Tom Flacco (QB), Shane Simpson (RB), Shane Leatherbury (WR), Robert Heyward (LB) and Aidan O’Neill were all selected to the preseason all-conference team. Five more were given honorable mention All-CAA: Jabari Allen (WR), Aaron Grzymkowski (OL), Bryce Carter (DL) and Keon Paye (LB).
Five on the all-conference team is the third-most in the CAA, only behind Maine and James Madison.
TOWSON BEGINS CAA PLAY ON THE ROAD, AGAIN
For the fifth consecutive season, Towson will start conference play on the road. This year, Towson will play reigning league champion Maine to start CAA play on September 14th.
Towson is 1-3 in these CAA road openers, winning 45-35 at Villanova in 2018. Towson opened CAA play at Stony Brook in 2017, at Villanova in 2016 and at Elon in 2015.
The last time Towson began CAA play at home was in 2014, hosting Maine.
TOWSON PICKED SECOND IN CAA PRESEASON POLL
Towson was predicted to finish second in the CAA preseason poll, voted on by the league’s head coaches and media relations directors. The Tigers also picked up three out of a possible 24 first-place votes.
This ties the highest predicted CAA finish for the Tigers since 2012: Towson was predicted to finish first in 2012 and second in 2013.
Towson earned an NCAA FCS Playoff berth in 2018 after tying for third place in the CAA at 5-3, going 7-5 overall including victories over then-ranked Elon, Stony Brook and Villanova.
2019 CAA Football Predicted Order of Finish (1st-place votes, points)
1. James Madison (20), 238
2. Towson (3), 217
3. Maine (1), 201
4. Elon, 164
5. Delaware, 162
6. Stony Brook, 151
7. New Hampshire, 109
8. Rhode Island, 104
9. Villanova, 84
10. Richmond, 62
11. William & Mary, 58
12. UAlbany, 34
TIGERS IN THE PROS
Former Towson players are making their mark in the professional ranks, including Jordan Dangerfield and Tye Smith playing in the National Football League. In addition, Tom Flacco and alum Ryan Delaire were unveiled on CFL Negotiation Lists in August 2019.
Tigers in the Pros – 2019
–Jordan Dangerfield: Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL
–Tye Smith: Tennessee Titans, NFL
–Matt Kauffman: New Orleans Saints minicamp, NFL
–Frank Beltre: Toronto Argonauts, CFL
–Darius Victor: Hamilton Tiger-Cats, CFL
–Gerrard Sheppard: Memphis Express, AAF
–Kanyia Anderson: Sioux Falls Storm, IFL
FOUR GRADUATES SUITING UP FOR TOWSON
In the true form of student-athlete, four Towson players take the field as college graduates.
Troy Vincent Jr. graduated from Towson in 2018 and is in his second year of graduate school. Three others graduated from other institutions before coming to Towson, Tom Flacco from Rutgers, Ricky DeBerry from Oklahoma and Darian Bryant from Temple.
TOWSON PLAYERS APPROACHING RECORDS
Several Towson players are approaching the top-10 of records for the program.
Bryce Carter (R-Jr. DL)
10th: Justin Yelverton, 16.0 (1999-2002)
Tom Flacco (R-Sr. QB)
Passing Touchdowns: 32 (9th in TU history)
–8th: Bret Rogers, 33 (1980-83)
–7th: Grant Enders, 35 (2011-12)
Passing Yards: 3,807
–10th: Peter Athens, 4,217 (2009-13)
Passing Attempts: 497
–10th: Jason Amer, 541 (2001-03)
Passing Completions: 305
–10th: Peter Athens, 309 (2009-13)
Robert Heyward (R-Sr. LB)
–10th: Bill Stup, 266 (1985-88)
Shane Leatherbury (R-Sr. WR)
–9th: Two players, 138
Receiving Touchdowns: 11
–8th: Five players, 14
Career Receiving Yards: 1,299
–10th: Eric Yancey, 1,814 (2003-06)
Aidan O’Neill (Sr. K)
Field Goals: 55 (1st in TU history)
–FCS Record: Dan Carpenter, Montana, 75 (2004-07)
Field Goals Attempted: 73 (1st in TU history)
–FCS Record: Chris Snyder, Montana, 107 (2000-03)
Keon Paye (R-Sr. LB)
–10th: Seven players, 8
–10th: Bill Stup, 266 (1985-88)
Shane Simpson (R-Sr. RB)
All-Purpose Yards: 4,696
–1st: Jason Corle, 5,382 (1996-99)
Career Rushing Yards: 1,926 (9th in TU history)
–8th: Matt Romeo, 1,950 (2000-03)
–7th: Nick Williams, 1,985 (2004-07)
Career Rushing Attempts: 375
–10th: Paul Cillo, 421 (1981-82)
100-Yard Rushing Games: 5
–10th: Three players, 7
AMBROSE – 3RD LONGEST TENURED CAA COACH
Head coach Rob Ambrose, a Towson graduate of 1993, returns at the helm of the Tigers for his 11th season in 2019 and is the third-longest tenured head coach in the CAA.
Going into its 51st season, Towson football has had four head coaches, with three, including Ambrose, serving at the helm for at least 10 seasons. Ambrose was formerly an assistant under Gordy Combs from 1992 to 2000.
Ahead of Ambrose in years is New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell (21st season) and Stony Brook’s Chuck Priore (14th season).
ALUMNI BACK TO COACH THE TIGERS
Along with Ambrose, several Tiger assistant coaches are also Towson graduates.
–Scott Van Zile (QBs Coach, Recruiting Coordinator): 1999
–Konstantinos Kosmakos (DL Coach): 2006
–Collin Bauer (OLB Coach): 2013
–Lance Yaniger (Director of Operations): 2011
Tigers in the Community
The Towson University athletics department deems community service as one of its highest priorities to give back to the Greater Baltimore area.
For the 7th consecutive year, the department exceeded 10,000 hours of community service to the Greater Baltimore region, finishing with 11,162 hours of community service in the 2018-19 academic season.
Towson ranked #1 nationally for community service and won the 2018 National Championship for Community Service through the Helper Helper NCAA Team Works Competition.
Towson had a 97% participation rate, attended 118 community service opportunities and volunteered with 19 organizations.
Towson won the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award from Susan G. Komen of Maryland.
LAST GAME (TOWSON 42, N.C. CENTRAL 3)
(9/7/19, TOWSON, MD.):
Scoring 14 points in each of the first three quarters, Towson defeated N.C. Central 42-3 for its first 2-0 start since 2013.
Towson – 15 pass completions to 10 different receivers
NCCU – Lone field goal of the game
Towson – Tom Flacco: 15-22, 228 yards, 3 TD
NCCU – Davius Richard: 10-23, 109 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Towson – Shane Simpson: 12 rush, 89 yards
NCCU – Isaiah Totten: 14 rush, 60 yards
Towson – Darian Street: 3 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD
NCCU – Nique Martin: 5 catches, 80 yards
Standout Defensive Player:
Towson – Keon Paye (LB): 3 tkls., 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 TD, 3 BrUp
NCCU – Stephen Stokes (DB): 7 tkls., 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 BrUp
Towson’s influence is growing across the world with four international players in 2019, including three from Europe.
Redshirt senior linebacker Malik Tyne, from Canada, has played 31 career games for Towson, coming into 2019 with 56 tackles, including 18.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks.
From Belgium comes Tibo Debaillie who, despite injury last season, has played in 13 games on the defensive line.
Two new players from Europe will serve as offensive linemen this year: Roman Wahrheit from Germany and Vaino Paakkonen from Finland. From 2014-17, Towson had another offensive lineman from Europe, KJ Brandal, who hailed from Norway.
FROM UP AND DOWN THE EAST COAST…
The Towson roster nearly covers every state along the East Coast, including 12 states along the coastline and 15 states total in the country.
Away from the Eastern Seaboard, Towson has players from California, Michigan and Illinois.
…AND REPPING THE HOME STATE
The Towson roster represents the Old Line State well, sporting 35 players from the home state of Maryland.
This includes four players from Baltimore City: Marcel Allen (Milford Mill Academy), Sam Grace (Boys Latin), Sean Jefferson (Dunbar) and Myles Wright (St. Frances Academy).
Maine, the outright CAA champion in 2018 and under first-year head coach Nick Charlton, currently is fourth in FCS in passing offense with 369 yards a game in the air.
Senior Chris Ferguson leads the air attack, being sixth in FCS with 354.5 passing yards a game, throwing four TDs and one pick, having five receivers with 7+ catches. On the ground, redshirt senior Emmanuel Reed averages 4.8 yards a carry, scoring twice. Senior Baltimore-native Manny Patterson is a Preseason STATS All-American at defensive back, currently having five tackles.
LAST TIME VS. MAINE (MAINE 35, TOWSON 28)
(11/3/18, TOWSON, MD.):
Despite coming back from down 18 to tie the game with 10:14 left, Towson, for its 2018 Homecoming, fell to Maine 35-28 after a Black Bear touchdown with 6:29 to play.
Towson – Down 28-10 with 8:12 in 3rd; tied 28-28 with 10:14 left
Maine – Two players with 121+ all-purpose yards
Towson – Tom Flacco: 23-38, 225 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Maine – Chris Ferguson: 16-32, 233 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Towson – Tom Flacco: 19 rush, 67 yards
Maine – Ramon Jefferson: 14 rush, 121 yards, 3 TD
Towson – Shane Simpson: 7 catches, 69 yards, 2 TD
Maine – Earnest Edwards: 3 catches, 74 yards, 2 TD
Standout Defensive Player:
Towson – Bryce Carter (DL): 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF
Maine – Jeffrey DeVaughn (DB): 9 tackles, 0.5 TFL
FIRST 2-0 START SINCE 2013
With victories over The Citadel and N.C. Central, Towson has started 2-0 for the first time since 2013.
In 2013, the Tigers began the year 6-0, including a victory over Connecticut, eventually going to the FCS National Championship game. The Tigers also started 2-0 in 2011, Towson’s first playoff berth under head coach Rob Ambrose.
IMPORTANT DATES: TOWSON-MAINE SERIES
–Sept. 8, 1978:
In its first year as a Division II program, Towson traveled to I-AA opponent Maine and pulled off the 13-7 upset in its second game of the year. Freshman tailback Ray Walsh had 69 yards rushing in the second half, including a five-run game-winning touchdown. Under head coach Phil Albert, Towson finished 9-1 that year.
–Oct. 3, 1987:
In its first year as a I-AA (FCS program), Towson’s first win came against Maine, the eventual Yankee Conference champion, in a 17-14 victory in Orono. Dave Meggett had 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the game.
–Oct. 13, 2012:
Towson’s fifth-largest home crowd in program history came in a Towson-Maine game, where 10,141 fans came to Unitas Stadium to see the Tigers win 24-19. Grant Enders and Terrance West each had over 96 yards rushing.
FLACCO FINDING TARGETS
Through the first two games, Tom Flacco has found 12 different receivers. Shane Leatherbury is the leader with eight receptions thus far, with all other players having 1-5 catches.
In all of the 2018 season, 14 Tigers had at least one reception in the combined 12 games.
FLACCO UNVEILED ON CFL NEGOTIATION LIST
In August, Tom Flacco was unveiled on the Canadian Football League (CFL) negotiation list for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Being on a CFL negotiation list, which is for international players and non-drafted Canadians, means that team has exclusive rights to negotiate a contract. All CFL teams release 10 names on their respective negotiation lists twice a year.