Overcoming mistakes, Towson football gets past North Carolina Central for 31-20 win

September 21, 2014|By Paul Pierre-Louis | The Baltimore Sun

Down 14-10 near the end of the first half Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Towson football team had a chance to take the lead as its offense lined up on North Carolina Central’s 21-yard-line.

Tigers quarterback Connor Frazier scrambled to his right and threw a pass toward the back of the end zone in hopes of finding wide receiver Derrick Joseph. But Eagles defensive back Theo Livingston was in position and snagged it out of the air, resulting in the Tigers’ first turnover of the season. 

On the Tigers' next drive, however, from a similar spot where he threw his interception, Frazier found wide receiver Spencer Wilkins for a 22-yard touchdown. The score gave Towson a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in a 31-20 win over North Carolina Central, the team's final nonconference game of the regular season.

“Critical times pretty much determine the fate of football teams,” Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said. “For all of the mistakes we did make … especially offensively, we tied it all in.”

Running back Darius Victor led Towson's offense in the second half, finishing with 194 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Victor broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career, while Wilkins had eight receptions for 100 yards. Free safety Chris Carpenter thwarted North Carolina Central’s best chance for a second-half touchdown with an interception late in the third quarter.  

Towson (2-2) finished with 422 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, a season high for a unit that didn't score a touchdown in its 21-7 win at Delaware State last Saturday. Without the interception and eight first-half penalties, Frazier said, the team could’ve score more.   

 “If we could’ve just limited the mistakes, I think our offense could’ve put up bigger numbers,” said Frazier, who finished 15-for-22 for 161 yards passing. “The receivers made big plays outside and the offensive line was great tonight.”

A 27-yard punt return from Joseph, who was named Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday after a return touchdown last week, put the Tigers in Eagles territory, and Victor capped the five-play drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown.

North Carolina Central (1-3) tied the game early in the second quarter, and after a Towson field goal, the Eagles took their only lead of the game. Quarterback Malcolm Bell connected over the middle with wide receiver Quenti Atkinson, who crossed the end zone uncontested.

After Frazier threw his first interception of the year, he completed a 20-yard pass to Wilkins before finding him again in the end zone to make it 17-14 at halftime.

“We worked a lot on passing this week in practice, and it showed in the game tonight,” Frazier said. “I felt like me and the receivers jelled better.”

Victor had a 53-yard run on Towson’s fourth play of the second half and capped the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the next play.  

“I’m always hungry" to score, Victor said. “You got to eat until you get full.”

After two straight field goals made it 24-20, North Carolina Central stuffed Victor on fourth down to take over possession at Towson’s 37-yard line. On the next play, though, Carpenter intercepted Bell’s long ball on the 9-yard line. The play led to an 11-play, 91-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and 31-20 lead.

“I think our offense made a statement as to what they want to be,” Ambrose said.

ppierrelouis@baltsun.com

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