|Tigers Hunt For Playoffs With Amazing Turnaround|
By Simon Habtemariam
With the college football season winding down, Towson has not only clinched its first winning season in more than five years, but has some Tigers fans chattering the word "playoffs."
Towson's 2011 campaign has been a remarkable season, but the focus has now shifted from what this team was to where this team is going. Sitting atop the Colonial Athletic Association for a majority of the season, the Tigers have found ways to win despite their circumstances.
The Tigers' biggest test of the year came during their first meeting with conference newcomer Old Dominion.
Needing a touchdown, a two-point conversion, an onside kick recovery and another score, sophomore quarterback Grant Enders and coach Rob Ambrose pieced together a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off with a two-point conversion. The Tigers then successfully recovered the following onside kick. After three consecutive sacks, Enders, with face bloodied, faced fourth down and 29 yards ahead of him.
All he needed to keep Towson alive was 30 yards. All the Tigers needed was a field goal. Instead, junior receiver Tom Ryan turned Enders' fourth-down pass into a 63-yard touchdown for the game-winning score.
"Wow," Ambrose said. "I have been told that a team with character can beat a team with talent. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that my guys have a ton of character."
Wins like this have been the biggest difference between this year's Tigers and their predecessors. Good teams win, despite the cards dealt to them. The Tigers have won big when things were going their way, and have eked out close victories when the odds were against them.
Their only taste of modesty came against long-time rival Delaware, which dealt the Tigers their first Football Championship Subdivision loss, 35-30. While Towson's youth has fueled its energizing drive to the top of the CAA, careless penalties and key turnovers cost them that game.
Towson’s best performance has come from a rookie. Freshman tailback Terrance West leads the conference's best rushing attack and ranked first in the country in touchdowns scored with 21 after a big Nov. 5 road win against Maine. The Baltimore native, who hails from Northwest High School, was named CAA Rookie of the Week four of the first eight weeks of the season.
Playing in the premier conference in the FCS, the Tigers could all but guarantee a postseason bid with a top-four finish -- a happy ending to a fairy tale season.
Issue 167: November 2011