Towson tops Delaware in OT

Kevin Noonan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


NEWARK, Del. -- It wasn't just a game that was on the line for Towson on Saturday at blustery Delaware Stadium. It was its season.
Sophomore running back Terrance West scored on a 3-yard run to start overtime and cornerback Jordan Love intercepted a pass to end it as Towson kept its FCS playoff hopes alive with a 34-27 victory over Delaware in a Colonial Athletic Association game.
"We knew if we didn't win today we'd be going home instead of to the playoffs," Towson quarterback Grant Enders said. "We still have a long way to go to reach our goals, but this was a good step in that direction. Both teams needed this one and we made the plays we had to make and we got it."
Delaware (5-4 overall, 2-4 Colonial Athletic Association) tied the game with 2.8 seconds left in regulation when Sean Baner kicked a 40-yard field goal. That came after Enders led Towson (5-4, 4-2) on an 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by his 2-yard touchdown pass to fullback Emmanuel Holder with 44.7 seconds left to play that gave the Tigers a 27-24 lead.
"Grant Enders showed why he's such a good quarterback and such a good competitor," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "We're fortunate to have a veteran leader that everyone looks up to and respects. He really took control of this game in the fourth quarter and in overtime."
The two teams battled each other and the wind through the first three quarters. Towson led the entire way to that point and seemed to have the game in control. But quarterback Trent Hurley led Delaware to its first lead in the fourth quarter, 24-20, when running back Julian Laing scored on a 4-yard run with 14:21 left to play.
And Delaware had a chance to pad its lead on their next possession, as the Blue Hens drove to the Towson 20, where they faced fourth-and-2. Delaware coach K.C. Keeler elected to go for a field goal and a 7-point lead, but Baner was wide right on a 37-yard attempt.
That set the stage for Enders and the Towson offense, which drove 80 yards in 15 plays before Enders and Holder hooked up for their go-ahead touchdown.
"I couldn't ask more from my team in terms of preparation, but it's about making plays," Keeler said. "We just had too many opportunities that let go and they just made more plays than we did."
Delaware did make enough plays to tie it after taking over with just 40.4 seconds left in regulation. The big play was a 22-yard pass from Hurley to wide receiver Mike Milburn that put the ball on the Towson 23 with 6.4 seconds left and Baner made up for his earlier miss by drilling a 40-yarder into the wind.
"We felt really confident and we really came together in the overtime, on both sides of the ball," Towson safety Jordan Dangerfield said. "The offense did its job and got seven points instead of just three and the defense did our job by keeping them out of the end zone."
So, with two games left in the regular season Towson still has a shot at the CAA championship and Delaware doesn't, and the Blue Hens know that a once-promising season -- Delaware started off 4-0 -- will end in disappointment.
"It's hard to accept, because we know we can compete with any team in the country," Delaware linebacker Paul Worrill said. "But we don't have anybody to blame but ourselves. We didn't make enough plays today and that's what it came down to. At critical times, when you're in a position to win the game, you have to make those plays. They made them and we didn't and that pretty much says it all."
Notes: Delaware played without Andrew Pierce, a first-team all-CAA running back last season and the fourth-leading rusher in the conference this season with 699 yards with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Pierce has a sprained knee and didn't even suit up on Saturday. He was replaced by junior Julian Laing, who had 62 yards on 14 carries. ... This was Towson's first victory over Delaware in five years and its first victory at Delaware since 2006. ... This was also Towson's eighth overtime game since 1996 and the Tigers are 6-2. ... Towson RB Terrance West rushed for 119 yards, his 10th 100-yard game in less than two seasons.