Towson football still must learn how to close out games

For second time in 2014, Tigers unable to protect lead in fourth quarter

September 28, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

With Towson featuring nine new starters on offense and five on defense, many expected this year’s team to be a much different group from last season’s squad that advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision title game.

That difference is especially stark when considering how the 2014 Tigers have struggled to finish off opponents.

While last year’s team won 11 of 12 games in which it had the lead or the score was tied after three quarters, the current squad has lost two of three games in which it had the advantage or the score was tied heading into the final period.

That scenario played out Saturday night as Towson surrendered a 37-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds left in regulation and allowed Colonial Athletic Association foe Maine to escape Johnny Unitas Stadium with a 27-24 win.

The Tigers, who fell to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference, also failed to protect a 27-24 lead in an eventual 31-27 setback to Central Connecticut State in the season opener for both teams on Aug. 30, and sophomore running back Darius Victor said the team must learn how to turn a lead into a victory.

“The name of the game is winning, and that was the difference between winning and losing,” said Victor, who posted his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the year. “Finishing’s everything. We have to do better to win.”

While arguing that there was very few similarities between the losses to Central Connecticut State and Maine (2-2, 1-0), coach Rob Ambrose conceded that Towson has to learn how to win in the fourth quarter.

“Our young team needs to learn how to shut the door on this stuff and finish,” Ambrose said. “But I saw stuff out of them tonight that I hadn’t even seen yet, and in some ways, I’m really proud of them. But the name of the game is to win, and we didn’t do that.

"I thought Maine made enough plays when they needed to, and like I said earlier in the week, Maine was going to play us for four quarters, and the team that won would be the team that made the least amount of mistakes and turned the ball over the least and played all 60 minutes. We probably played some of the best football we’ve played all year in this game, but not for 60 minutes. It’s still a work in progress.”

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