Towson guts out milestone victory

Dramatic 35-31 win over fifth-ranked Delaware is first victory for Tigers in Atlantic 10

Acc & State

October 02, 2005|By MATT PAPUCHIS | MATT PAPUCHIS,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Since Towson's four-point loss to Delaware last season - its closest conference game all year - the Tigers' Atlantic 10 troubles have been plentiful. But last night Towson may have silenced the doubters for good.

Nick Williams' 3-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds left, followed by Eric Clark's interception on Delaware's final drive, gave Towson a 35-31 victory before a record-setting homecoming crowd of 10,078 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

The win marks Towson's first in the conference since joining the Atlantic 10 last season, and it came against a team two seasons removed from a national championship.

The Tigers, now well into their second season in the Atlantic 10, had already given up 118 points in two conference losses this season, making many skeptical that Towson could seriously compete with the teams in this league.

But last night, Williams said all naysayers have been silenced.

"For our program, it's huge," said Williams (Calvert Hall), who finished with 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. "It emphasizes the fact that we can play with anyone in this league and anyone at this level. The offensive line made my job really easy."

Williams' game-winning score came less than a minute after Delaware quarterback Sonny Riccio gave the Blue Hens (3-1, 0-1 Atlantic 10) a three-point lead on a touchdown run with 1:17 left.

After a first half dominated by Towson (3-2, 1-2), Delaware - the fifth-ranked Division I-AA team in the country - fought back, and the second half turned into a good, old-fashioned shootout, with the lead changing hands four times in the last 10 minutes.

Towson was trailing for the first time, 24-21 with less than five minutes to go, when Williams scored his first touchdown of the game on a 17-yard run.

Williams has scored a touchdown in each game this season.

Towson, which entered the third quarter leading 14-3, started the second half right where it left off - with an 18-yard pass.

After a penalty and a couple of incomplete passes, Towson was looking at fourth down and 11 at the Delaware 35-yard line. Freshman Sean Schaefer (19-for-34 and 274 yards) hit Eric Yancey (8 catches, 135 yards) for a 28-yard reception, giving Towson a first-and-goal. Kerry Miles punched it in for his second score, putting Towson up 21-3.

"I think it will start to settle in over the next couple of days how big a win this actually was," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "We not only beat a good team, we beat a good program - a program that we aspire to be like"

Leading 7-0 in the first quarter, thanks to a 45-yard touchdown pass from Schaefer to Yancey, the Tigers opted for a little trickery to open their second scoring drive. Wide receiver Andrae Brown (Milford Mill), who was recruited as a quarterback, hit Marcus Lee for a 14-yard gain. Williams paced the ground game during the drive, while a couple of Yancey receptions helped the Tigers take it down to the 1-yard line before Miles punched it in, putting Towson on top 14-0 - giving the Tigers their biggest lead ever over an Atlantic 10 opponent.

Delaware 0 3 14 14-31

Towson 7 7 7 14-35

First quarter TOW-Yancey 45 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 5:10.

Second quarter TOW-Miles 1 run (Halbruner kick), 11:14. DEL-FG Hobby 25, 5:15.

Third quarter TOW-Miles 2 run (Halbruner kick), 10:52. DEL-Bleymaier 7 pass from Riccio (Hobby kick), 10:01. DEL-Cuff 15 pass from Riccio (Hobby kick), 6:62.

Fourth quarter DEL-Bleymaier 8 pass from Riccio (Hobby kick), 9:43. TOW-Williams 17 run (Halbruner kick), 4:15. DEL-Riccio 3 run (Hobby kick), 1:17. TOW-Williams 3 run (Halbruner kick), :38. A-10,078.

Del Tow

First downs 23 24

Rushes-yards 36-155 39-143

Passing 241 288

Comp-Att-Int 22-39-1 20-35-1

Return Yards 170 146

Punts-Avg. 5-33.2 5-25.2

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 10-69 14-137

Time of Possession 27:45 32:15 Rushing-Delaware, Cuff 26-127, Riccio 10-28. Towson, Williams 25-169, Miles 2-3, Lee 1-3, Perry 1-1, A. Brown 1-(minus 3), Team 3-(minus 7), Schaefer 6-(minus 23). Passing-Delaware, Riccio 22-39-1-241. Towson, Schaefer 19-34-1-274, A. Brown 1-1-0-14. Receiving-Delaware, Cuff 8-76, Bleymaier 5-54, Cauthen 3-51, Ingram 2-26, LaForgia 2-9, Love 1-19, Michbaud 1-6. Towson, Yancey 8-135, A. Brown 6-103, Lee 4-54, R. Brown 1-2, Williams 1-(minus 6).

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