STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Facing the shadow of its own end zone on the 4-yard line, down by one point and with 7:36 left in the game, No. 2 Towson had its hands full at No. 23 Stony Brook on Saturday night.
But when there's trouble, go to Terrance West, and keep it coming. The junior running back rushed for 150 yards, 41 of them on the game-winning drive.
"We've been in a lot of situations like this before with our backs against the wall," West said. "But we're a good road team so that played a big part in today too."
He set up freshman Darius Victor's 32-yard rushing touchdown with 2:38 left to give Towson (5-0) the go-ahead score and enough to escape Stony Brook (1-3) with a 35-21 victory on Saturday night.
"Everybody earns their spot," Towson head coach Rob Ambrose said. "It was really enjoyable to watch Darius do what he did against really good competition."
Victor rushed for 45 yards on five carries on the night, but his longest run of the game capped off a drive West kept alive.
"The mindset on that final drive was to take every single play at a time," West said. "Every yard, every first down, just count it. Luckily, everything turned out OK."
West led both teams with 150 yards rushing, including 41 on that drive, and added a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter. His 12 touchdowns on the year lead the Football Championship Subdivision.
"I have a nose for the goal line," West said. "When I get down there, I want it."
Towson's seventh-ranked defense iced the game with 42 seconds left when Tungie Coker sacked Stony Brook quarterback Lyle Negron from behind, forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned 43 yards by Donnell Lewis.
The defense gave up 21 points in the first half on 147 yards, 96 on the ground. Not exactly the usual performance of a top-10 nationally ranked defense.
Stony Brook's running duo of Jameel Poteat and James Kenner combined for 154 yards — Poteat with 72, Kenner with 82.
"They're a class act. Very physical," Ambrose said. "At halftime, we talked about how it was about us and that we had to believe in each other and in ourselves."
With a sputtering offense, a little luck was needed to get back into things in the second half.
After getting stuffed on third-and-1 with 12 minutes left in the third quarter, Jake Ryder's punt struck Stony Brook's Nick Wagner on the hip, only to be recovered by Towson's Monte Gaddis on Stony Brook's 25.
Peter Athens hit Spencer Wilkins for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to four points with 11:01 left in the third. Athens went 10-for-21 for 104 yards, with the one touchdown to Wilkins and two interceptions.
"There's a lot to work on with Pete," Ambrose said. "We dealt with our share of mistakes in a very good fashion."
Towson's defense regained its usual form in the final two quarters, forcing three straight Stony Brook punts and keeping the Seawolves off the board for the last 30 minutes.
"Great adjustments by the staff, great heart from the kids," Ambrose said. "We just didn't stop playing. They're bumped, they're bruised, they're beat up, but they didn't care. They were not going to be denied."
Towson's second-half resurgence gave the offense plenty of time and chances to find its rhythm, but the Athens-led group couldn't shift into gear. It was mental lapses by Stony Brook's defense that almost put Towson in front.
Two straight personal fouls, a facemask penalty on Naim Cheeseboro and a late hit out of bounds by Kamani Odrick, put Towson's sputtering offense on the Stony Brook 30.
But Towson had a lapse of its own, as a 25-yard touchdown pass from Athens to Wilkins was wiped away due to offensive pass interference on Brian Dowling at the end of the third quarter, cutting the drive short.
"We did everything in our power to make a very good football team look even better," Ambrose said. "We handed them the ball, made stupid mistakes, and you can't do that against a quality opponent like Stony Brook."
DJ Soven redeemed three points with a booming 51-yard field goal to bring Towson within one with 14:45 left in the fourth quarter.
"I'm like a proud dad right now," Ambrose said. "If we just did what we knew how to do and did it together, things would work out the right way."