Tigers maul the Black Bears
The Tigers snapped a two-game losing streak, remaining undefeated at home as they beat the University of Maine Black Bears 24-19 in a pivotal Colonial Athletic Association matchup.
Maine (2-4, 1-2 CAA) played without junior defensive end Michael Cole, who was named the week six CAA defensive player of the week after he sacked Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley five times and forced a fumble.
It was reported by the Portland Press Herald that Cole would miss the remainder of the 2012 season due to a torn quadriceps tendon in his left leg.
Maine’s defensive line put little pressure on senior quarterback Grant Enders, who completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 260 yards, and didn’t record a sack.
Enders was also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 98 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Enders ended the game with 358 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
Towson’s first scoring drive came on their second possession of the game.
On the 10-play 77-yard drive, the Tigers (3-3, 2-1 CAA) used two 25-yard gains from wide receivers senior Alex Blake and junior Spencer Wilkins to put themselves in scoring position.
Sophomore running back Terrance West found his way into the end zone to finish the drive for Towson.
Maine responded with a 56-yard drive, which was resulted in a 33-yard field goal for Sean Decloux.
Towson marched down the field on the ensuing drive, but the Black Bears’ defense didn’t break.
Following a 25-yard completion to senior wide receiver Tom Ryan, Grant Enders threw his sixth interception of the season.
Enders was picked off by linebacker Troy Eastman, who returned the interception 92 yards for a touchdown giving Maine its only lead of the game.
The Tigers were down 10-7 midway though the second quarter and with Towson’s defense battling on the field, Ambrose made his way off the sideline and gathered all of the offensive players.
“I explained to our guys that some situations are more adverse than others and we needed to finally gather to be able to win,” Ambrose said.
The offense responded and outscored Maine 17-9 after Enders’ interception.
“It goes back to having a short memory,” Enders said. “Just taking the game one play at a time. If it’s a bad drive or something, you’ve got to forget about it and just execute each play and it takes a lot of focus. Our guys are good with that, that’s what we practice.”
Towson reclaimed the lead later in the second quarter when Enders connected with senior wide receiver Erron Banks in the back of the end zone.
The Tigers extended their lead at the end of the third quarter when junior kicker D.J. Soven hit his first field goal of the night. Soven missed his three previous attempts.
Maine had two chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter: a fumble inside the five-yard line and then electing to kick a field goal with less than seven minutes remaining in the game.
“That entire drive, all we were thinking was ‘that means nothing,’” junior linebacker Telvion Clark said. “We got a couple of tough penalties that got them closer in the red zone, but the whole time our defense had the same mindset. You’ve got to actually cross that plane to get a touchdown. We fought hard and that time it just happened to pan out in our favor.”
The Black Bears almost had another chance to produce offensively, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the ball back to Towson’s offense.
“We just didn’t execute,” Maine Head Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “That might have been the dumbest penalty I’ve ever been a part of.”
Enders sealed the win for the Tigers with a 52-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes of the game.
“Their defense was pretty aggressive and we just had great blocking and everyone got their man,” Enders said. “Dominique Booker made great block on a guy and I was able to avoid his tackle and keep going.”
Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown with seconds remaining in the game, but the Black Bears failed to convert on the two-point conversion attempt and did not recover their onside kick attempt.
The Tigers are currently fifth in the CAA standings and will face fourth-place Old Dominion at Johnny Unitas Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m.