By KEVIN NOONAN
They usually toil in anonymity and the only time you hear their names is when they do something wrong like get penalized for holding or give up a sack. But on this day, in this game, the big guys up front were the stars of the show.
Towson’s offensive line paved the way as No. 14 Tigers ran past No. 7 Maine 40-30 on Saturday at Alfond Stadium in a game that left three teams tied for first place in the CAA, all with 5-1 records in the conference – Maine, Towson and New Hampshire.
And the Tigers did it behind the one-two punch of running backs Terrance West and Tremayne Dameron. Both ran for more than 100 yards, the first time since 2000 that Towson had two runners go over the century mark.
West carried the ball 21 times for 183 yards, an average of 8.7 yards per attempt. He also scored three touchdowns, which gives him 21 TDs on the year, the most in the FCS. Those impressive statistics earned the freshman CAA offensive player of the week honors.
Dameron, who has been hampered by injuries this season, rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries. He and QB Grant Enders gave the credit to the offensive line – senior Henry Glackin and sophomores Eric Pike, Charles Johnson, Randall Harris and Doug Shaw – for the big day on the ground, as the Tigers rolled up 334 rushing yards on 53 attempts. Towson came into the game averaging 226.5 rushing yards per game, tops in the CAA.
“Having a great offensive line is what makes a great running game,’’ Dameron said.
It also helps the passing game, as Enders was quick to point out.
“I can’t say enough about the offensive line,’’ said Enders, who only passed the ball 13 times, completing six. “They’re all just tough guys who play great within our scheme. It’s easy to have balance on offense when you’re able to put together such a good rushing game. And when we do drop back to throw, I have all the time in the world.”
Both teams started the game with long scoring drives – Towson went 66 yards in 10 plays for a 7-0 lead on West’s 8-yard run and Maine went 70 yards in nine plays to tie it on a 15-yard run by QB Warren Smith.
Towson jumped back in front on West’s 2-yard run and Dameron’s 19-yard TD run made it 20-7. The teams battled back and forth before an interception by Towson LB Kenton Powell set up another TD to make it 33-16, and after Maine’s Damarr Aultman scored on a 53-yard catch-and-run to make it 33-23, the Tigers closed out their biggest victory of the year.
In the end, it was Towson’s ability to run the ball and Maine’s inability to stop it that made the difference.
“They’ve done that to everybody. They can run the football with anybody,” Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said. “They’re tough to tackle, too. That’s another element that separates them.”
Smith had a good day and a bad day for Maine – he passed for 256 yards and two TDs, including the 53-yarder to Aultman, but he was also intercepted twice and was sacked four times. Aultman finished with eight catches for 117 yards and WR Arthur Williams caught seven passes for 47 yards, including a 3-yard TD. The Black Bears played without their leading rusher, senior Pushaun Brown (thigh injury), and his replacement, David Hood, rushed for 85 yards on 23 carries.