FCS No. 4 Towson grounds NCCU down in 2nd half
In the first half, N.C. Central showed the moxie to go toe to toe with one of the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision squads in No. 4 Towson.
That Eagles team didn’t return from the locker room when the third quarter started.
NCCU finished the game with a couple of rushing yards. Literally. Just two yards.
Towson, on the other hand, pounded the Eagles with 192 yards on the ground and Tigers quarterback Peter Athens threw for 252 yards. The Tigers remained undefeated with a 35-17 win at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Saturday.
NCCU was the first team this season to keep Towson from scoring in the first quarter, and Athens hadn’t been sacked all year until Eagles linebacker Allonte Tuppins caught up with him six yards behind the line.
Tuppins had been talking about getting his hands on Athens.
“It definitely was a goal I had set for myself to come out and really get on the quarterback,” Tuppins said. “A great opportunity opened up in the first quarter, early in the game, and I think that helped set the stage for the game. It helped the defense set the tone.”
Ty Brown and Aaron Wallace also sacked Athens, but Towson’s signal caller still threw it well.
Towson coach Rob Ambrose said his halftime speech “was about us, and that we had made every possible mistake that we could think of, and we were still winning but we were disappointed in our play, and how our attitude was and how well we played together would be the determining factor of how successful we were.”
NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster has been harping on how critical it is for the Eagles to finish offensive drives, and that just didn’t happen against Towson (4-0). NCCU had 15 third-down opportunities to extend their offensive possessions and converted only four.
Towson on the other hand was 9 of 15 on third downs.
“We’ve got to be able to get them off (the field) on third down when we can,” Foster said.
The loss leaves NCCU (2-2) playing .500 ball heading into a bye week before getting into its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schedule at Howard on Oct. 5.
NCCU is for real, Ambrose said.
“They’re going to continue to win football games,” Ambrose said. “They’re tough, physical, well-coached. We knew we were going to have our hands full. But it’s a four-quarter game. It’s 60 minutes, and our kids finished the game.”
Tuppins seconded that.
“I feel like we just didn’t really finish the game,” Tuppins said. “We came out in the third quarter and let them get two touchdowns, and we can’t do that.”
It was as if the Tigers broke out of a cage in the second half, wasting little time getting on the scoreboard with a four-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by a 22-yard touchdown run by running back Terrance West.
West is a touchdown maker, racking up five in Towson’s previous game, a win over Delaware State.
In the second quarter against NCCU, West scored on a 1-yard run, but the Eagles kept him in check during the first 30 minutes of the game. He established himself in the second half, though, finishing the contest with 139 yards on 31 carries.
NCCU quarterback Jordan Reid once again carried the ball more than his running backs. He was sacked six times for a rushing total that was 29 yards in the red after 10 attempts Andre Clarke was the Eagles’ most-productive runner with 17 yards on four carries.
Reid stayed upright long enough to pass for a career-high 292 yards, including a 21-yard toss in the end zone in the second quarter to wide receiver Marvin Poole.
For a half, NCCU held its own against one of the nation’s best FCS teams, but football is a four-quarter game.
“We lost a little bit of energy,” Poole said. “We’re not up for moral victories, man. We should have won that game.”
|TOWSON 35, NC CENTRAL 17|
Tow—Oboh 9 pass from Athens (Evangelista kick), 6:39.
NCCe—Poole 21 pass from Reid (Parent kick), 3:45.
Tow—West 1 run (Evangelista kick), :47.
NCCe—FG Parent 33, :02.
Tow—West 22 run (Evangelista kick), 13:18.
Tow—Victor 4 run (Evangelista kick), 5:09.
NCCe—Dixon 40 pass from Reid (Parent kick), 14:52.
Tow—Victor 10 run (Evangelista kick), 1:35.
|Time of Possession||33:34||26:26|
RUSHING—Towson, West 31-139, Victor 6-53, Kinnard 1-5,
Athens 6-(minus 5). NC Central, Clarke 4-17, Swinson 2-9,
K.Thompson 3-3, Augustus 5-2, Reid 10-(minus 29).
PASSING—Towson, Athens 20-33-1-252. NC Central, Reid 25-46-1-292.
RECEIVING—Towson, Kinnard 7-102, Wilkins 3-6, Dessenberg 2-61,
Dowling 2-32, Joseph 2-14, Oboh 2-10, Vallely 1-16, Scott 1-11.
NC Central, Poole 4-68, N.Scruggs 4-29, Wilkins 4-29, T.Harris 3-68,
Dixon 3-51, Augustus 3-14, G.Smith 2-15, L.Scruggs 1-15, Swinson 1-3.