Towson beats E. Washington 35-31

With Towson starting quarterback Peter Athens out of the game

with a shoulder injury, backup Connor Frazier got some simple

instructions from coach Rob Ambrose.

”He said lets have some fun,” Frazier said, after scoring on a

1-yard run with 17 seconds left to lift Towson to a 35-31 victory

over Eastern Washington in a Football Championship Subdivision

semifinal game on Saturday.

”Being a backup, I have to be ready for anything,” said

Frazier, who rallied the Tigers from a 31-21 deficit for the

win.

Towson (13-2) took over on its 29 with 1:35 left in the game and

went 71 yards for the winning points.

Eastern Washington (12-3) got the ball back with 12 seconds

left, but Vernon Adams’ first pass was intercepted.

Towson will play two-time defending champion North Dakota State

(14-0) in the national title game on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.

”It’s a proud day to be a Tiger,” Ambrose said. ”I’m

extremely proud of my guys.”

Eastern Washington was making its third trip to the semifinals

in four seasons, and won the 2010 national championship.

”When you finish the season in a loser-go-home situation, it is

going to hurt,” Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said.

”Everybody in the locker room is hurting, but they should have

their heads held high.”

The Tigers have won 12 straight games on the road dating to last

season.

Towson scored the first 21 points of the game, gave up 31

straight points, and then scored the final two touchdowns late for

the win.

Adams threw for 394 yards and two touchdowns for Eastern

Washington, which outgained the Tigers 580 yards to 483.

Frazier completed 6-of-10 passes for 98 yards, and also ran 18

times for 98 yards and the winning touchdown.

Towson marched 75 yards down the wet, slippery field on its

first possession, with quarterback Athens throwing a 1-yard

touchdown pass to Emmanuel Holder for a 7-0 lead

Eastern moved down the field on its first possession, but

receiver Cooper Kupp fumbled on Towson’s 12 and the Tigers

recovered. Derrick Joseph caught passes for 50 and 16 yards for

Towson, and Terrance West dove over from the 1-yard line for a 14-0

lead. It was West’s FCS-record 40th touchdown of the season, 39th

on the ground.

After a pair of EWU punts, Towson drove 91 yards in seven plays

to take a 21-0 lead. The drive ended when on fourth down Athens

threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brian Dowling in the end zone

with 10:32 left in the first half.

Eastern Washington finally scored when Adams threw an 8-yard

touchdown pass to Quincy Forte midway through the second

quarter.

Towson fumbled on its next possession and Eastern Washington’s

Will Katoa recovered on his own 36. Starting with just two minutes

left in the half, the Eagles drove to the 1, but time expired when

Adams was stopped while trying to run into the end zone.

”I saw a crease and didn’t get it,” Adams said.

Towson amassed 309 yards of offense in the first half but Athens

was not able to play in the second half because of a shoulder

injury. He had thrown for 144 yards and the touchdowns.

Eastern Washington opened the second half with a 10-play,

92-yard drive that ended with Forte’s 7-yard touchdown run, cutting

Towson’s lead to 21-14.

After Towson punted, the Eagles drove to the Tigers’ 5, but had

to settle for Kevin Miller’s 22-yard field goal to cut the deficit

to 21-17.

Towson went three-and-out, and the Eagles’ Zach Wimberly blocked

the punt, allowing Eastern Washington to take over on the Tigers’

23. Mario Brown ran the ball twice, the second a 5-yard touchdown

run as Eastern Washington took the lead at 24-21 with 1:36 left in

the third.

Towson punted again and the Eagles went 82 yards, with Adams

hitting Cory Mitchell on a 12-yard touchdown pass for a 31-21 lead.

It was the 55th touchdown pass of the season for Adams.

West ran 3 yards for a touchdown on Towson’s next possession,

completing a 75-yard drive that featured 13 running plays. It was

the first second-half touchdown Eastern Washington has allowed in

three playoff games this season and cut the Eagles’ lead to 31-28

with 5:09 left.

Eastern Washington burned clock time on its ensuing drive, and

turned the ball over on downs with 1:35 left.

Towson, taking over on its own 29, moved down to the 1 yard line

with 25 seconds left. West was stopped on a run. Then Frazier

scored on a quarterback sneak with 17 seconds left for the win.