Towson preparing for first FCS playoff appearance since 2013

November 23, 2018 | WNST Staff

(Photo courtesy of Towson Athletics)


The Game: #16/19 Towson (7-4, 5-3 CAA) vs. RV/RV Duquesne (8-3, 5-1 NEC)
When: Sat., Nov. 24, 2 p.m. kickoff
Where: Johnny Unitas® Stadium – Towson, Md.
Online Broadcast: ESPN3/WatchESPN
—-Broadcasters: Michael Reghi (PxP), Dustin Fox (Analyst)
Radio: CBS Sports Radio 1300
—-Broadcasters: Spiro Morekas (PxP), Gordy Combs (Analyst)
Series: First Meeting

TOWSON, Md. – The No. 16/19 Towson University football team is set for its first NCAA playoff game since 2013, hosting Duquesne for the first round on Saturday, Nov. 24th at 2 p.m. at Johnny Unitas® Stadium.

For tickets, visit here, call 1-855-TU-TIGER or email

The game will be broadcast online on ESPN3, with Michael Reghi and Dustin Fox on the call. The radio call will be on CBS Sports Radio 1300 with Spiro Morekas and Gordy Combs.

Towson comes to the NCAA Playoffs as an at-large from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Coming off a 38-17 defeat vs. James Madison, the Tigers enter at 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the CAA, tying for third place in its league. Duquesne stands as the Northeast Conference (NEC) co-champion, earning the league’s automatic qualifier with a 5-1 league record and 8-3 overall tally, coming off a 38-31 road victory over Central Connecticut State, its fifth straight win. Towson is ranked #16 in the STATS FCS Poll and #19 in the AFCA Coaches Poll, with Duquesne is receiving votes in both polls.

This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs. Towson has played an NEC opponent each year since 2014. This is Duquesne’s first game vs. a CAA opponent since the 2015 NCAA playoffs vs. William & Mary. The winner of this game plays 5-seed South Dakota State on Saturday, Dec. 1st.

Towson Earns First NCAA Playoff Berth Since 2013
Towson is back in the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 2013, picking up an at-large berth into the postseason.

This is the third time that Towson is competing in the playoffs, earning spots in 2011 and 2013. The Tigers were in the FCS National Championship game in the 2013 season.

Towson Ranked Top-20 in Both Polls
Standing at 7-4 overall, including wins over then top-15 Villanova, Stony Brook and Elon, Towson stands in the top-20 in each major poll. The Tigers are at #16 in the STATS FCS Poll and #19 in the AFCA Coaches Poll.

Towson has been ranked each of the past nine weeks. Towson had been ranked at some point each season from 2011-2014 and has been in the top-20 the last seven weeks.

The CAA currently has six of its 12 teams ranked, the highest among all FCS conferences. James Madison (#6 in STATS, #6 in Coaches), Maine (#12, #14), Stony Brook (#15, #16), Elon (#17, #17) and Delaware (#21, #23) are also in the rankings. Rhode Island is receiving votes. Villanova and New Hampshire were ranked in previous weeks.

Flacco Named to Walter Payton Watch List
Tom Flacco has been added to the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List.

The Walter Payton Award is given annually, since 1987, to the top offensive player in FCS football. Flacco was placed on this list by the first round of additions.

The last Tiger to be nominated for the Walter Payton Award was Terrence West in 2013. West was one of three finalists that year, leading Towson to the FCS National Championship game. In 1988, Dave Meggett was the second-ever winner of this award. Along with West, Towson has had two other finalists: Joe Lee in 1999 and Tony Vinson, who finished third in the voting, in 1993.

Flacco, Simpson Earn Major Honors as 11 Tigers Named All-CAA
A strong year for the Towson University football team was personified in the 2018 All-CAA Teams, as Tom Flacco was voted the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Offensive Player of the Year and Shane Simpson was selected as the 2018 Special Teams Player of the Year.

In addition, Towson earned 11 All-CAA selections, including tying a league-high five on the First Team. This is the most all-conference players from Towson since 2013, when the Tigers had 14 all-conference selections.

All five First Team members play on offense: Flacco (QB), Simpson (RB), Shane Leatherbury (WR), Matt Kauffman (OL) and Aidan O’Neill (K). Simpson earned three all-conference selections, also on the Second Team as a kick returner and the Third Team as a punt returner. He is joined on the Second Team with Robert Heyward (LB). On the Third Team is Aaron Grzymkowski (OL), Diondre Wallace (LB) and Yeedee Thaenrat (Special Teams).

Last Time Out (JMU 38, Towson 17)
(11/17/18 – Towson, Md.)
372 yards passing from Tom Flacco was not enough as Towson, which led early 10-7, fell in the regular season finale to James Madison 38-10.
Tom Flacco (TU): 31-50, 372 yards, 2 TD
Ben DiNucci (JMU): 15-22, 181 yards
Tom Flacco (TU): 15 rush, 52 yards
Cardon Johnson (JMU): 13 rush, 162 yards, 1 TD
Jabari Allen (TU): 6 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD
Jake Brown (JMU): 6 catches, 41 yards
Monty Fenner (TU): 10 tackles, 1 BrUp
Ricky DeBerry (TU): 6 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
Dimitri Holloway (JMU): 14 tackles, 0.5 TFL
Landan Word (JMU): 11 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFL

Towson Picked 10th in CAA Preseason Poll
Towson was voted 10th in the CAA preseason poll, voted on by the league’s head coaches and media relations directors. Towson went 5-6 last season and finished tied for seventh in the CAA at 3-5.
CAA Preseason Poll (first place votes, points)
1. James Madison (21), 241
2. New Hampshire (2), 206
3. Delaware, 182
4. Stony Brook, 169
5. Elon (1), 168
6. Villanova, 164
7. Richmond, 127
8. Maine, 81
9. UAlbany, 78
10. Towson, 74
11. William & Mary, 55
12. Rhode Island, 39

Top Passing QB in the CAA……..
Tom Flacco has turned heads this season, standing as the #1 QB in the CAA in passing yards a game with 284 and total offense with 348 yards a contest. He is currently throwing 63.8% from the air.

Flacco’s 284 passing yards a game stands seventh in all of FCS football, while his 23.6 completions a contest is sixth.

His 438 total offensive yards in the game vs. The Citadel is currently the second-highest single game total by a CAA player this season. In that game, he had 253 passing yards and 185 yards on the ground.

….and Getting His Name in Towson Records
Tom Flacco completed 35 (out of 51) passes against Wake Forest on September 8th, tying for seventh all-time in Towson history in a single game.

Flacco was the first Tiger to earn over 30 completions in a game since Sean Schaefer in 2008.

Streaking Shane
Shane Leatherbury stands in the top-2 in the CAA in numerous categories, including being second with 79.5 receiving yards a game (33rd in FCS) and also second with six receptions a contest (20th in FCS).

Simpson Racking Up Yards
Shane Simpson has been a deadly weapon for Towson, standing first in all of FCS football with 177.6 all-purpose yards a game.

The redshirt junior is Towson’s primary running back, kick returner and punt returner, totaling 1,954 all-purpose yards off 620 rushing, 342 receiving, 887 kick returning and 105 punt returning yardage.

He has also scored at least one touchdown in nine of 11 Towson games. He has 12 total touchdowns on the season.

O’Neill Sets School Career, Season FG Record
Junior Aidan O’Neill set a new school all-time record for career field goals made on September 1st. In his career, O’Neill has connected on 52 field goals, including four on September 1st vs. Morgan State to set the new record.

This season, O’Neill has converted 21 field goals, a new Towson record, and stands first in FCS with 1.91 made field goals per game. He is third in FCS with 9.5 points scored a game.

Wallace Stands #7 All-Time in Tackles at TU
Senior Diondre Wallace has 282 career tackles, including 156 unassisted, earning at least 45 tackles in all four seasons played. He stands seventh all-time in Towson history.

20 more tackles would place Wallace sixth all-time in Towson history. Jim Colongo, who made 302 tackles from 1994-97, currently is is sixth.

The all-time leader in tackles in Towson history is Jeff Boller, who had 382 from 1979-82.

Tigers in the Community
As part of the second annual Battle for Greater Baltimore, student-athletes from Towson and Morgan State united for a community event at the Weinberg YMCA in Baltimore on August 18th.

Athletes from both schools helped out with representatives from the Special Olympics of Central Maryland for the event. Towson’s women’s cross country team were with Morgan State’s track & field and softball programs.

During the afternoon, the student-athletes spent the day with children in Baltimore, playing numerous games including relay races, football tosses, balloon races and Duck-Duck Goose.

This event was part of Towson’s Total Tiger Program: its goal is to educate, advocate, mentor and serve, giving Towson student-athletes an opportunity to engage and interact with the Greater Baltimore area through community service.

Scouting Duquesne
Duquesne has won a share of the NEC title three of the last four years and is making its first appearance in the NCAA Playoffs since 2015.

The Dukes are led by Jerry Schmitt, the NEC Co-Coach of the Year, in his 14th season at the helm, winning conference titles in eight seasons plus 91 total games in his time in Pittsburgh.

The team is led by the NEC Offensive Player of the Year, junior running back AJ Hines, who averages 5.8 yards a carry for 1,324 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has 48% of the team’s carries with 228 total.

At quarterback is junior Daniel Parr, who completes 62.7% of his passes for 2,143 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also has 106 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Two All-NEC First Team senior linemen, Alex Conley and Matt Fitzpatrick, protect Parr.

The primary target in the air is fellow First Team member Nehari Crawford, a senior with 63 catches for 971 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Duquesne defense allows 27.5 points per game. Up front is All-NEC First Team defensive lineman Kam Carter, a Germantown, Maryland native, with 18 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Second Team senior Jalen Booker has 33 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

Patrolling at linebacker is All-NEC Second Team junior Brett Zanotto, the team’s leader in tackles with five. A First Team player is in the secondary: senior Jonathant Istache has 39 tackles and 11 passes broken up.