Matt Castor had a career day (CREDIT: Towson Athletics)
*(This is a quick post that will be elaborated on later)
Towson 31 Columbia 24
Why Towson Won
The Tigers offense finally got a running game going, and veteran QB Sean Schaefer made enough plays in crucial moments to pull it out. Towson also never let Columbia grab too much momentum, getting big kickoff returns that led to scored after the Lions had tied it at 7 and again when they knotted it at 24.
Why Columbia Lost
The Lions made too many turnovers and didn't stop even one Towson 4th down conversion attempt. The heavy rain made turnovers inevitable, but Towson made more out of them than Columbia.
Key Turning Points
1) In the first quarter, Austin Knowlin muffed a Towson punt, giving the Tigers possession at the Lion 36. After a short gain on 1st down, there was a 40-minute rain/lightining delay and Towson came out of the break sharp. Seven straight runs by Matt Castor resulted in a Tiger TD.
2) After Columbia tied it up with a spectacular 59-yard catch and run by Zack Kourouma on a Shane Kelly emergency dump off pass, Towson returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the Lion 34. Towson got a field goal on that drive, but more importantly, took the momentum back from Columbia.
3) Leading 10-7 with 3:46 left in the half, the Tigers mounted an impressive drive but it appeared to stall on the Columbia 25 with a 2nd and 24 with under 50 seconds left. The Lions let Towson off the hook however, and two Schaefer passes resulted in a TD and a ten point deficit.
4) Columbia came out inspired in the second half and made it 17-17 with 8:15 left in the third quarter. But again, Towson would not allow the Lions to enjoy any prolonged momentum. The Tigers mounted a 75-yard drive that included two 4th down conversions and ended with a short pass for a TD and a 24-17 Towson lead.
5) Columbia would eventually tie it at 24, but not before turning the ball over twice in the Tiger red zone. First, Knowlin was stripped by a nice tackled from behind, (that was not a mistake by Knowlin, just a great strip by the tackler), and then after the Lions got the ball right back at the Tiger eight on a Schaefer fumble, Knowling dropped a sure TD pass two plays before Kelly was intercepted for another turnover. The merry go round continued after Alex Gross tipped a pass that Adam Mehrer intercepted and returned to the Tiger 30. Columbia did fumble the ball again on this possession, but the Lions recovered and later went in for the tying score on Kelly's two yard keeper. But the previous turnovers had killed much of the clock and not there was just 3:11 left in the game.
6) The ensuing kickoff was returned all the way back to the Columbia 44 and Towson was in business. They never even had to face a 3rd down as they drove for the eventual winning TD.
Did We Get Lucky?
Despite the loss, the refs may have given two very big gifts to the Lions. The first one came late in the first quarter when Towson appeared to have a false start, but there was no call and the play resulted in a fumble that Drew Quinn recovered. Two plays later, Kourouma made his 59-yard dash into the end zone.
The second gift may have been Kelly's keeper TD. Kelly fumbled the ball into the air and it was recovered by Towson. But the refs said the ball broke the plane of the end zone before the score. The replays I saw of the TD were inconclusive.
I know we're 0-2, but ladies and gentlemen, we have a quarterback. You have to be impressed by Shane Kelly and the job he's done in his two first starts.
We have a couple of new sophomore stars in Zack Kourouma and Mike Stephens.
Drew Quinn is playing like a man possessed.
Eli Waltz did not return for the second half after recording what I believe was his first sack of his career. The Lions need him back, as well as Owen Fraser who I also did not see return after the rain delay.
Jon Rocholl has looked great on field goal attempts and the PAT's were a perfect 3-3 Saturday as well. And once again, Rocholl was able to snag a punt over his head and get a decent kick off.
Austin Knowlin had a tough game, and I'm sure he knows it. I'm thinking he doesn't do that again for a long time.