Rob Ambrose articlefeature--college-football-2

Towson University Football: 2017 So Far

Having dropped their first two Colonial Athletic Association games of the year, the Towson Tigers now stand at 2-3 (victories over Morgan State, and Saint Francis) overall here in their 2017 season. The out-of-conference loss to FBS level Maryland was certainly expected. Dropping conference games against like FCS competition is more stressing.

Two weekends ago, the Tigers came up short in their CAA opener, losing to Stony Brook, 25-14. The Sea Wolves improved their conference record to 2-0 from the boot of their kicker, Alex Lucansky. Lucansky knocked home four field goals, including two in the fourth quarter to pad Stony Brook’s lead they had taken late in the second quarter. The Tigers got out to a fast start, leading the game 10-7 after the first quarter, but Stony Brook fought back and held off Towson’s young offense throughout the second half. 

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

The Tigers were in striking distance for the whole game, and they did not trail by more than two possessions until there was 1:44 left in the fourth. But as the fourth quarter was winding down, and Towson was making their way into Stony Brook territory, but Kobe Young fumbled on a fourth and one with 5 minutes remaining, and Stony Brook went down and hit another field goal to ice the game.

Freshmen quarterback Ryan Stover led the Tigers offensively, posting 152 yards in the air combined with his team leading 42 on the ground. Coach Rob Ambrose had this to say about his teams young talent, “I see two really good talented backs that are going to be a handful in a couple of years. They were a little bit of a handful tonight. I thought Ryan played well for the most part. I think he made a couple mistakes down the stretch that hurt us that showed his inexperience, but for the situation that we are in, far away from home, having so many guys down, I’m proud of our guys. They’ve got a lot of fight in them”. Young and CJ Williams also contributed to the offensive effort, scoring touchdowns on the ground. 

The win for Stony Brook marks the first time that the home team has won this matchup in the last five years. The loss brought the Tigers to 2-2 on the young season facing another uphill challenge this past weekend when they took on #14 Villanova at home. 

Against the Wildcats, the score did not mirror the way the game went, per se, as the Tigers hung in to make it a ball game until late in the second half, when Villanova pulled away. Towson scratched their way back into the game starting in the second quarter when quarterback Ryan Stover led the Tigers down the field with two big completions and capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Early in the third quarter, the Tigers took their first and only lead of the game when Aidan O’Neill booted home a 27-yard field goal.

Villanova took advantage of turnovers in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns, but that should not overlook the way Towson’s defense played throughout the day. The Tiger defense forced four turnovers on the day, including three interceptions, two falling in the hands of Junior Defensive Back Monty Fenner. In the second half, Villanova did not complete a pass, and relied heavily on their run game to pound down the field. Sticking with the defense, Kanyia Anderson notched his fourth sack of the season, and Diondre Wallace led the team with seven tackles. Towson looks to return to a winning streak later this month when they take on Richmond at home.

Their remaining schedule is as follows:

Oct 7: BYE

Oct 14: vs. Richmond 4pm

Oct 21: at New Hampshire 2pm

Oct 28: vs. Delaware (Homecoming Weekend) 4pm

Nov 4: at Elon 2pm

Nov 11: at William & Mary 2pm

Nov 18: vs. Rhode Island (Senior Day) 2pm

In two weeks, the Tigers face another tough challenge in Richmond, who comes in at #15 in the FCS rankings. The bye week should help the young Towson offensive unit recover from two big games, and get their minds right for yet another one. Expect a good crowd at Johnny Unitas Stadium on October 14th, as it is Towson’s Family Weekend. 

Including last weekends contest against Villanova, Freshmen quarterback Stover leads the offense in passing, throwing for 865 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, while also leading the team in rushing, running for 246 yards on 51 attempts and 1 TD. Jabari Greenwood and Rodney Dorsey lead the team in receiving. Greenwood has 31 catches for 300 yards, and Dorsey has added 10 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side, Monty Fenner has three INTs on the year along with 25 tackles, while Diondre Wallace leads the team with 42 tackles. 

Questions For The Program:

Q1) The Colonial Athletic Conference is regularly regarded as one of the premier leagues at the FCS level. Towson saw Nationally ranked Villanova this past weekend. Richmond (#6 Nationally), and New Hampshire (#16) also loom on the remaining schedule. (TU misses facing #1 James Madison.) Since reaching the FCS Championship Game following the 2013 season, Towson has gone 12-16 in league play. Is a winning record in league play plausible this year? If not, why has TU declined?

Q2) The Baltimore / Washington area is talent rich. Clearly the Coaching staff has prioritized keeping talent home, with 35 players on the roster hailing from Maryland, and another 15 coming from Virginia. That said, the roster features players from 16 States (including DC), and even has some International flavor with Belgium naive Tibo Debaillie. Has Coach Ambrose and his staff reached a higher caliber of player since the Title Game appearance? Are local HS coaches more receptive to the Tigers program? Whats working, what needs adjustment? Is TU keeping up recruiting wise with their CAA peers?

Q3) In the early 2000s, the Football facilities were significantly upgraded. Unitas Stadium is a quality venue. The Ford-Vetter Athletic Sports Medicine Facility has previously received phrase. The Minnegan Room is a multi-purpose space, perfect for fund-raising. In ’08 TU became the first FCS school to install a Daktronics high-definition LED video and scoring system. What’s needed next, when talking about about further investment into the program?

Q4) Three home games remain. October 14th vs. Richmond, Homecoming October 28th vs. Delaware, and Senior Day vs. Rhode Island on November 18th.  What can be expected attendance wise?  TU has an enrollment of just under 23,000 and a large local Alumni base. What can the Athletic Department do better, to tap into that prospective audience and fill the stadium for these games? What is being done to reach out and appeal?  For those of you with no association to the program, is there something which would entice you to check out a game?

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Sam Kuhn

Sam Kuhn is a current college senior at The College of Wooster, majoring in English. He will serve as the captain of the lacrosse team there, and was a varsity player at Loyola Blakefield in Towson. This summer, he is interning with Inside Lacrosse, writing stories about their recruiting circuit, and continuing into the school year, he will serve as the Senior Sports Writer for his College's newspaper, The Wooster Voice. He is hoping to pursue a career in sports journalism upon graduation in the Spring of 2018. Sam has three younger brothers and lives with his parents in Towson, MD, where he grew up.

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