Tigers' defense rises to occasion again

Towson 38 Liberty 17

College football


LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Towson's opportunistic defense struck again last night at Liberty.

The Tigers, who forced four turnovers in a win at Rhode Island last weekend, recovered two first-half fumbles deep in Liberty territory and converted them into touchdowns, paving the way to a 38-17 victory.

It marked the first time since 2000, when visiting Towson beat Fordham and Lafayette, that the Tigers have won back-to-back road games in the same season.

"It's gigantic," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "It puts us in good shape."

After falling behind 3-0, the Tigers scored the next 21 points to take control.

Kerry Miles scored from 1 yard to give Towson (5-2) the lead for good with 9:43 left in the first quarter.

Then, the Tigers' defense took over.

On Liberty's first drive of the second period, Towson defensive tackle George Mitchell poked the ball away from Flames quarterback Brock Farrel and linebacker Joe Ryan fell on it at the Liberty 9. Two plays later, Towson quarterback Sean Schaefer hit Demetrius Harrison with an 11-yard touchdown strike for a 14-3 lead.

On the next drive, Liberty running back Zach Terrell, who started the year as a backup quarterback, lined up under center, but fumbled the exchange.

Towson's Carlos Allen recovered the ball and Miles scored on an 8-yard run four plays later to give the Tigers a 21-3 lead.

"We had one [turnover]," Combs said. "Anytime you can outnumber your own turnovers, it`s good to be on the plus side of that plus-minus situation. "That`s excellent."

Liberty [1-6) pulled within 21-10 when Farrel found Wynton Jackson for a 46-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. But Towson's Ron Halbruner kicked a 39-yard field goal just before halftime and Schaefer ran 11 yards for a score on the first drive of the second half to push the Tigers' lead to 31-10.

Schaefer ran up the middle on a draw after realizing his receivers were covered. The run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took 6:48 off the clock.

"I had great blocking," Schaefer said. "They opened a big hole up the middle for me so I could run."

Schaefer started despite sustaining a triceps contusion on his throwing arm when a defender's helmet hit him in practice Thursday.

He didn't throw at all during yesterday morning's walk-through at Williams Stadium, but performed well, completing 21 of 32 passes for 230 yards.

"It's a lot better than it was earlier in the week," Schaefer said. "The adrenaline helped me a little bit."

The Tigers held Terrell in check when the game was still in question.

Terrell, a freshman who ran for 241 yards in his debut at running back last week against Chattanooga, ran for 91 yards on 19 carries, with 23 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter, when the Flames trailed 38-10.

Towson hopes the trend of opportunistic defensive play continues next Saturday when the Tigers travel to William and Mary for a key Atlantic 10 game to wrap up a three-game road swing.

"This was a big obstacle for us this week," Combs said. "We didn't want to be looking past (Liberty). I don't think we did. We came out with all of our oars in the water and we played hard on offense, defense and special teams and did a great job."

Towson 7 17 7 7-38

Liberty 3 7 0 7-17

First quarter LU- FG Beasley 27, 12:46

TU-Miles 1 run (Halbruner kick), 9:32 Second quarter TU-Harrison 11 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 12:25 TU-Miles 8 run (Halbruner kick), 9:11 LU-Jackson 46 pass from Farrel (Kolegue kick), 5:47

TU-FG Halbruner 39, 00:13 Third quarter

TU-Schaefer 11 run (Halbruner kick), 8:12 Fourth quarter TU-Williams 1 run (Halbruner kick), 14:56 LU-Hamilton 7 run (Kolegue kick), 12:37 A-3033.


First downs 27 22

Rushes-yards 45-227 32-97

Passing 238 185

Comp-Att-Int 23-35-1 13-25-0

Return Yards 00 00

Punts-Avg. 1-36 3-39

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-2

Penalties-Yards 9-71 3-40

Time of Possession 38:50 21:10 Rushing-Towson, Williams 18-72, King 10-61, Miles 9-43, Brown 3-14, Lee 2-14, Goldback 2-12, Schaefer 1-11. Liberty, Terrell 19-91, Hamilton 3-12, Team 1-0, Farrel 9-(minus 6). Passing-Towson, Schaefer 21-32-230, Goldbeck 2-3-8. Liberty, Farrel 13-25-185. Receiving-Towson, Brown 5-82, Lee 5-59, Arnold 4-29, Brown 2-31, Harrison 2-18, Williams 2-3, Collins 1-6, Perry 1-6, King 1-4. Liberty, Terrell 5-63, Turner 5-49, Williams 2-27, Jackson 1-46.

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