Towson roars with the bayou tigers
Towson was 47.5-point underdogs heading into its battle with nationally ranked Louisiana State University. Few outside of the team’s locker room believed they could shock the world.
The Tigers (2-2, 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association) fell short of their goal of pulling off one of the greatest upsets in sports history, but played LSU tough in a 38-22 loss in Death Valley.
The Towson defense managed to force three turnovers and score more points on LSU — one of the best defensive teams in college football — than any other team has in over one calendar year.
“We wanted to make a statement to tell everybody nationwide that we are Towson University and we’re here to play football,” senior safety Jordan Dangerfield said. “We’re not coming to pick up a check, we’re coming here to try to win and shock the world.”
LSU (5-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) capitalized on Towson’s few mistakes and extended its non-conference win streak to 41 games.
“I am extremely conflicted,” Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “I hate losing. You don’t line up to lose. With that being said, as a head coach, as an alum, as a father, I don’t think it is humanly possible for me to be more proud of these players.”
The Towson Tigers’ defense gave LSU’s offense all it could handle.
Towson forced five fumbles and held LSU to just 158 yards on the ground.
“The whole week we were practicing stripping the ball and forcing turnovers,” Dangerfield said. “We knew we were going to have to come out here and compete and win the turnover battle.”
Dangerfield finished the game with seven tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In addition to the turnovers, Towson continually put pressure on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The defensive line was penetrating and getting in the backfield, and the linebackers were filling their gaps and also getting through LSU’s offensive line.
“We’ve been building toward this,” Ambrose said. “To force turnovers, to play as 11, to be disciplined and we were working there. I give tremendous credit to the kids and the defensive staff for putting a plan together against one of the best teams in the nation.”
Towson received little outside motivation from the crowd.
“I feel like we were viewed as a little high school team,” defensive end Frank Beltre said. “We were looked at like nobody. They called us Townson, Towson State, they called us everything but what we are, Towson University. That’s why when we came out we punched them in the mouth. We knew they weren’t ready for what we had.”
Towson’s offense also thrived in Death Valley.
Senior quarterback Grant Enders threw for 103 yards and a touchdown and also lead Towson’s rushing attack with 86 yards on the ground.
Sophomore running back Terrance West also carried the ball effectively for Towson. He rushed for 79 yards and scored two of Towson’s three touchdowns.
“I hope everybody realized the difference between FBS and FCS football isn’t that big,” Enders said. “At the end of the day, it’s 11 guys competing to win … Obviously we’re not happy because we didn’t score enough. We didn’t stop fighting and kept going until the very end. It’s good to put up those points against a great defense, but we needed to score more to win.”
Towson trailed LSU at halftime 17-9, but a muffed punt late in the third quarter proved to be the turning point of the game.
Following that Towson turnover, LSU went on to score two touchdowns to extend their lead and ease the worry of a possible upset.
Towson and LSU exchanged touchdowns, but then Towson continued to fight and drive on LSU’s defense.
In the closing minutes of the game, Enders connected with senior wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard in the corner of the end zone, giving Towson its third touchdown of the night.
“Our guys have a lifetime memory in one of the most historic stadiums that have ever existed,” Ambrose said. “They now know that it doesn’t matter who the other 11 are. We can play with anybody, anywhere, any time.”