Tigers eye third consecutive win
Towson (2-0) will host its first home game of the year Saturday, carrying with them a six-game win streak and the No. 4 ranking in The Sports Network’s weekly Football Championship Subdivision poll.
In Towson’s way are the Delaware State Hornets (0-1), who seek to avenge last week’s loss to in-state rival Delaware.
The Tigers have fared well in home openers in the Rob Ambrose era, posting a perfect 4-0 record.
Delaware State brings with it a high-powered offense, which favored passing in its game against Delaware last week.
Quarterback Cory Murphy led the offense, going 30-for-45 with 302 yards and two touchdowns.
He also racked up 44 yards on the ground, which was a game-high for the Hornets.
Murphy found eight different receivers against the Blue Hens Saturday.
Junior Milton Williams, who finished fourth in receiving for the Hornets last season, led the pack with 112 yards on 10 catches.
“They have a wide-open offense that has the ability to rack up a ton of points,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “They run their offensive schemes as good as it gets, they made mistakes in the Delaware game, but outside of those mistakes they handed it to them.”
Lining up against the Delaware State offense will be a Towson defense that ranks 12th in the FCS and that held the Holy Cross Crusaders to just 149 passing yards.
The Hornets’ rushing attack is ranked 88th in the FCS, but they welcome back last year’s top rusher Malcolm Williams, who missed the game against the Blue Hens with turf toe.
Towson currently boasts the 10th best rushing offense in the FCS, gaining a total of 246 yards per game.
Junior running back Terrance West is ranked third in the FCS with 141 yards per game, adding four touchdowns.
Towson senior quarterback Peter Athens, who is starting his first home game since 2009, said that he is excited to be back home in front of the fans at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
“It’s definitely going to be a special moment for not just me, but all of the fifth-year seniors who came for [Ambrose]’s first year,” Athens said. “It’ll be great for the whole team to come back and play our first game at [Johnny Unitas Stadium].”
Athens has connected on 69.8 percent of his pass attempts so far this season. Ambrose said that Athens’ completion percentage is vital for the Tigers.
“The reason we’ve been so successful on offense for the past two years is because of our ability to run the ball and throw it,” Ambrose said. “We’re getting the same amount of touches, but the difference is that we’re a 60 percent completion last year, but now we’re 70 percent completion.”
Both teams have been strong in time of possession this season, which could be a determining factor in Saturday’s game.
Delaware State held the ball for over 12 minutes more than its in-state rival, while Towson has had the ball for just less than 25 minutes more than its opponents.
The Hornets will have to limit turnovers against the Tigers, who have forced four turnovers in their first two games.
Murphy was intercepted once by the Blue Hens, and the offense added another interception and a fumble to the total.
Ambrose, who said his team is aware that this game is the only home game in September, is excited for the energy of a home opener.
“When your feet are planted on your ground, you tend to fight a little harder,” Ambrose said. “We have a student section that is rowdy and with our successes, the Towson community as a whole is now part of it. That kind of energy changes how we play.”
Kickoff from Unitas Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.