Towson hangs tough, still falls to Maryland 28-3
Playing in-state rival Maryland for the first time ever, Towson was eager to put its best effort forward against the Terps.
For one half, the Tigers did just that, trailing 7-3 after 30 minutes.
But they could not execute well enough to play with Maryland for a whole game.
Danny O'Brien threw for two second half touchdowns and Maryland's defense forced four second half turnovers as the Terrapins pulled away to a 28-3 win over Towson.
''We made too many mistakes to get a `W.' You can't turn the ball over that many times in a game and get a win,'' said Towson coach Rob Ambrose.
Towson (3-1) came into the game undefeated and leading all Football Championship Series teams in scoring defense, allowing an average of 10 points per game.
And they looked to be able to hold Maryland's scoring down, as well, keeping the Terps offense off the field by holding the ball for 21:30 of the first half.
But the second half turnovers (two fumbles lost and two interceptions) were too much to overcome.
That's not to mention a couple of long passes that could have gone for touchdowns had the receivers been able to hang on to the ball - one of those coming in the first quarter when Alex Blake had a long one go through his hands with the closest defender two paces behind him.
''Missed opportunities, We had chances for touchdown passes and they were big ones,'' said Ambrose. ''We put our defense in the hole with the turnovers. You can't beat good opponents with turnovers and plays like that - period.''
Maryland's O'Brien completed 14 of 21 passes for 123 yards. Davin Meggett added 102 rushing yards, and the Terps finished with 335 yards total offense - 198 rushing.
''We just kept our composure in the locker room,'' said O'Brien of Maryland's second half insurgence. ''We hung in there and stuck to the game plan. We'll take a win any way we can get it. It wasn't necessarily pretty or the easiest win, but we got it.''
To open the game, Maryland (2-2) needed just 85 seconds to score against the Tigers when D.J. Adams ended a 65-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. The score came one play after a roughing the passer penalty on an incomplete pass allowed the Terps a first down rather than facing a fourth down at the 30.
On their next two series, a blocked field goal and fourth down stand by Towson's defense kept the Terps from building an early lead.
D.J. Soven's 23-yard field goal at the end of a nine-minute possession in the second quarter by the Tigers made it 7-3 after they were stopped on a goal line stand.
The Tigers later missed a 24-yard field goal try as the first half ended, rushing to get the kick off with no timeouts left and the clock ticking down. After the missed field goal, the Tigers defense only crossed midfield once - and lost the ball on an interception on that drive.
''Offensively we were taking it to them, so not getting the points didn't change the motivation. What annoys me is that I had to blow three timeouts because we were dumb. And then, I couldn't waste a timeout to line up and kick the field goal,'' Ambrose said. ''We left too many points on the field.''
Maryland extended its lead to 14-3 on its first possession of the second half, which followed an interception by Kenny Tate at the Towson 45. Maryland scored eight plays later with Justus Pickett going in from the 5.
Following a Towson punt, Maryland drove 78 yards and scored on a 7-yard pass from O'Brien to Kenny Dorsey for a 21-3 advantage with 7:09 to play.
Another Towson fumble gave Maryland the ball at the Tigers 26, leading to a 5-yard pass from O'Brien to Tyler Cierski for the final margin.
Peter Athens started at quarterback for Towson in place of Grant Enders, who was injured last week. Athens, who missed all of 2010 with an injury, had career-high totals of 29 passes, 17 completions and 217 yards.
Tom Ryan caught seven passes for 103 yards for the Tigers, who finished with 378 yards of total offense.
The game was the first ever between the two teams and was a reunion of sorts for Maryland coach Randy Edsall and Towson coach Rob Ambrose, who coached together for seven years at the University of Connecticut.