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Column: What went wrong?

4 January 2014 By Matthew Hamilton, Associate Sports Editor No Comments
Breaking down the up's and down's in Saturday's game

So you might be asking yourself tonight (or Sunday morning), what went wrong in Towson’s 35-7 loss to North Dakota State Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Tx. The truth is that many things went wrong, but I’ll do my best to break it down for you.

I think we should start with the obvious: The score. I don’t believe the game should have ended at 35-7, because Towson had more fight in them than the scoreboard suggested. However, the disastrous second quarter created a spiral effect that led to the lopsided loss.

The second quarter was full of miscues by Towson, but none more vital than the blocked field goal and interception.

Yes, the Tiger kicking has been inconsistent all year, but I think Matt Stover would have had a tough time splitting the uprights on the play. Bison lineman Kyle Emanuel had a clear lane to the ball and smothered it.

Towson responded nicely after the touchdown, but it gave the ball right back after senior quarterback Peter Athens’s interception. Athens was without senior tight end James Oboh and, with the exception of a 37-pass to junior wide receiver Brian Dowling, could not find receivers open down field.

The score might have forced the Tigers to throw more than they expected, but it was a difficult task against one of the top defenses in the country. Without three of their top receivers, backup quarterback Connor Frazier led the team with seven receptions.

It is also a challenge to come back against a team like North Dakota State, who were expecting Towson to pass throughout the second half.

Who do we blame then?

I can’t tell you that you should blame any Towson player. North Dakota State is the three-time defending champion for a reason; they are really, really good at playing football. Towson was outplayed in every aspect of the game.

You could turn to the Tiger defense and feel the need to blame them, but I would do so with caution. Although the highly-ranked rush defense allowed 210 yards on the ground, North Dakota State began a drive in Towson territory three times.

You could say that the pass defense did its job in holding Brock Jensen to 135 yards, but he only threw 18 passes to senior quarterback Peter Athens’s 44. Having a large lead changes the dynamic of an offense to favor the run, but the Bison were strong on the ground regardless.

There are plenty directions that you could take the blame train, but it all boils down to the fact that Towson allowed North Dakota State to take the momentum and carry it with them. It didn’t help that North Dakota State brought its entire state to Frisco, but I respect the heck out of fans like those.

However, we shouldn’t end on such a sour note. There were plenty of positives that Towson fans can take with them until next season.

How about the fact that we played on ESPN2 twice in a month? That can’t hurt our school as it stands in the national limelight. Towson (or Towzson, Townsend or Townsend State, whichever name you prefer) is known around the country. Let that sink in.

On the football side, the Tigers playing in the National Championship game cannot hurt recruiting for Head Coach Rob Ambrose. He joked after the game he’d be back on the recruiting trail tomorrow. I hope he wasn’t joking.

Towson may not make the championship every year, but I think the days of 1-10 are over for a long while. Students (the ones who care about their school) will be watching a successful team for years to come.

Another highlight of this week was the outpouring of support from the Tiger faithful here in Texas. Although they were outnumbered significantly, Tiger fans screamed throughout the morning and into the game. I heard your “Oh!” during the national anthem and I definitely made out the sound of “Seven Nation Army” a couple times.

Some students rode buses for 40 hours just to spend 10 hours in Frisco. If that’s not dedication, then Terrance West isn’t the best running back in the FCS. And we all know Terrance West is the best back.

What do I take from this entire experience?

I am happy to see Ambrose and his team reach its goals they set earlier this season. His confidence reflected throughout his team and the school in general.

The word I heard countless times in Frisco was that this was a “new” experience, and it surely was. However, I think we’ll be back and we’ll use what we learned this week next time.

Until then, let’s sit back and watch what might be the most successful year in the history of Towson sports.

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