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Freshmen Lead Towson Past New Hampshire, 56-42

By Joseph Suhoski  Published: 13th November 2011

UNH QB Kevin Decker had another statistically impressive performance with 389 yards passing, 75 yards rushing, and three total touchdowns. But his 3 interceptions and fumble were costly to the Wildcats.

In a game in which two football teams combined for more than 1,100 yards of offense, it was the performance of a defensive back that tilted the game in the home team’s favor.

Before 8,366 fans at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the #12 Towson Tigers continued their surprising season with a 56-42 win over #7 New Hampshire.  Terrance West (Baltimore, MD) led Towson with 261 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including scoring runs of 72 and 69 yards.  Grant Enders had an efficient day passing, completing 14 of 18 attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Behind quarterback Kevin Decker (Armonk, NY), New Hampshire moved the ball effectively throughout the game.  The senior passed for 389 yards and added another 75 on the ground, contributing three total touchdowns.  Nico Steriti had eight catches for 90 yards while tight end Sean Cullen led UNH with 95 yards receiving.

With the two offenses playing to a stalemate in yardage most of the game, the Tigers needed a spark on defense to slow down the Wildcats; that spark would be provided by Tye Smith.  The freshman from Raleigh, NC, intercepted two passes and added a fumble recovery in the best game of his young career.  The big plays came at critical times:

  • Down 14-7 in the first quarter, New Hampshire drove to midfield.  Smith stepped in front of a dump-off pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. UNH would score on its next possession but was down 21-14 rather than tying the score at 14-14 due to Smith’s pick-six.
  • Following a Towson score midway through the third, UNH returned the kickoff to midfield.  Decker scrambled to Towson’s 42 but was stripped of the ball, which Smith recovered.  Although Towson followed the fumble with a three-and-out, the turnover shifted field position in Towson’s favor.
  • The Wildcats were within two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter and had driven to Towson’s 26. Decker scrambled to his left and threw a pass to the end zone, which Smith picked off for a touchback.  Towson ran off most of the clock following the INT to seal the game.

Towson would need all four of its turnovers (safety Jordan Dangerfield added an interception of his own), as Decker and the Wildcats were otherwise unstoppable.  New Hampshire outgained the Tigers 611-517, which was not unexpected to Towson’s head coach.

Towson CB Tye Smith had a career game for the Tigers. Above is a photo of Smith's first interception that he returned 45-yards for a touchdown giving the Tigers a 21-7 lead.

“Man, they (New Hampshire) are good. I’m glad the game is over because it means they can’t score points now,” Rob Ambrose said after the game. “I knew this was going to be a shootout, and I knew we needed to play well early.”

The Tigers were indeed productive early.  West scored three times and tight end James Oboh added two touchdown receptions in Towson’s first five drives. The sophomore from Germantown, MD, finished with three catches for 97 yards and the two scores. Combined with Smith’s defensive touchdown, Towson had 42 points after its first five possessions.

Entering the game West had scored 21 touchdowns on the season. With his four touchdowns Saturday, he broke Tony Vinson’s single-season team record from 1993. The freshman downplayed the importance of individual records following the game. “I don’t pay attention to that.  As long as we get the ‘W’, that’s all I care about.  It’s all about the team”

New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell singled out the tailback after the game. “West is a dynamic presence as a freshman,” McDonnell said. “They run the ball with authority. The offensive line has a lot to do with it, but West is special.”

Towson (8-2, 6-1) concludes its regular season next week at Rhode Island. A victory against the Rams would give the Tigers the CAA regular season championship, an incredible feat considering they had won three total games the last two seasons. Should the Tigers lose, their fate is linked to New Hampshire’s results next week. The Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) end their season against Maine (8-2, 6-1), who would win the CAA crown with a win and a Towson loss.

Regardless of next week, Towson has probably played its way into the FCS playoffs with its win Saturday. Coach Ambrose is confident in his team’s resume to this point, after being hesitant to discuss the “P”-word in previous weeks. “If they don’t let us into the playoffs, there’s something ridiculously wrong with the world.”

On Saturday night, Towson got stellar performances from Tye Smith and Terrance West to ensure the ridiculous doesn’t happen.

Photos from the game can be viewed by selecting the link below:

http://sportsspotlight.smugmug.com/College-Sports/Football/New-Hampshire-Towson-CAA-FB/20058675_SNFtMk#1581617237_JDC67X9

 



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