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
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
Towson scored the first 21 points of the game, gave up 31
straight points, and then scored the final two touchdowns late for
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
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
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
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.