Towson-Eastern Illinois Football Gameday Breakdown
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 12/12/2013
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Towson has achieved so much this season. After beating Fordham, 48-28 at home last week, the Tigers won their first FCS playoff game and also reached 11 wins for the first time.

But all the goals of the 2013 season have not been reached yet. No. 5 Towson (11-2, 6-2 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)) heads to Charleston, Ill. on Friday night to take on No. 2 Eastern Illinois (12-1, 8-0 Ohio Valley Conference) on O'Brien Field at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Looking at Eastern Illinois
Eastern Illinois is the No. 2 seed in the FCS playoff field, while Towson is No. 7. The Panthers are playing in their first quarterfinal round since 1989 after they defeated Tennessee State at home last week, 51-10.


The Panthers have not lost to an FCS team this season. Like Towson, they have one victory against an FBS squad, having defeated San Diego State, 40-19 on the road on Aug. 31. Their only loss took place at Northern Illinois (43-39) on Sept. 21. They went through the Ohio Valley Conference with ease, as their toughest game was a 34-16 win on Oct. 26 at the team they defeated last week, Tennessee State.

The Panthers are led by record-setting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is chasing the FCS single-season passing yards record with 4,729 yards. The record of 5,076 was set by Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion last year. Garoppolo, along with Towson's Terrance West and Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams are finalists for the Walter Payton Award.

Statistically speaking
Eastern Illinois leads the nation in scoring at 48.9 points per game and averages 595.5 yards per game in total offense. The Panthers average 376.3 yards per game in the air and 219.2 rushing yards per game. They allow just 147 yards per game (3.8 yards per carry) on the ground and 211 yards per game in the air. EIU has committed 21 turnovers and forced 14 interceptions and recovered 22 fumbles.

 
THE BREAKDOWN

Offense

Quarterback
Towson
Senior Peter Athens (6-1, 220)
- Has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,935 yards with 17 TDs and 12 interceptions this year
- Has also run for two touchdowns and 161 yards

 
Eastern Illinois
Senior Jimmy Garoppolo (6-3, 222)
- Has thrown for 4,729 yards, 51 touchdowns, nine interceptions
- Has completed 65.1 percent of his passes

- Has rushed for 124 yards an two scores
- Was named OVC Offensive Player of the Year, College Sports Madness All-American first team and named National Player of the Week twice

Advantage: Eastern Illinois
 
Running backs
Towson
Junior Terrance West (5-10, 223), freshman Darius Victor (5-8, 215) 
- West is second in FCS with 1,993 yards rushing and 33 rushing touchdowns this season -  averages 6.0 yards per carry
- West has 19 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown
- Victor has yards rushing and six touchdowns
- Victor averages 6.7 yards per carry and also has four catches for 60 yards including a 41-yard TD reception

 
Eastern Illinois
Junior Taylor Duncan (6-3, 224), sophomore Shepard Little (5-10, 198)
- Little had 184 yards rushing last week vs. Tennessee State
- Little was first team All-OVC
- Little leads the Panthers with 1,493 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and has 15 touchdowns

- Little has 17 catches for 166 yards
- Duncan has 888 rushing yards with 10 TDs (4.5 yards per carry)
- Duncan has 27 catches for 223 yards

Advantage: Towson
 
Wide receivers/tight ends
Towson
Junior Derrick Joseph (5-8, 165), junior Brian Dowling (5-10, 190), freshman Andre Dessenberg, TE senior James Oboh (6-4, 230)
- Dowling has 24 catches for 260 yards
- Joseph has 28 catches for 234 yards and one score
- Oboh has 20 catches for 305 yards and four scores
 
Eastern Illinois
Junior inside receiver/TE Jeff LePak (6-6, 222), outside receiver sophomore Keiondre Gober (6-3, 196), senior inside receiver Erik Lora (5-11, 190), junior outside receiver Adam Drake (6-2, 199)
- Lora leads the Panthers with 105 catches for 1,415 yards, 18 TDs (13.5 yards per catch)
- Lora was seventh in the voting for Walter Payton Award and first team All-OVC
- Drake is second on the team with 81 catches for 1,240 yards and 13 TDs
- Drake was second team All-OVC
- LePak has 46 catches for 656 yards and seven TDs
- LePak was first team All-OVC

- Gober is fourth on the team with 45 catches for 870 yards and nine TDs

Advantage: Eastern Illinois
 
Offensive line
Towson
Seniors LT Eric Pike (6-4, 299), LG Anthony Davis (6-3, 300), C Doug Shaw (6-1, 265), RT Randall Harris (6-4, 285), freshman LB Sam Evans (6-2, 270), LG Charles Johnson (6-2, 290) or sophomore Jake Schunke (6-5, 300)
- Pike and Harris were named to first team All-CAA last year and this year
- Shaw was named second team All-CAA last year and third team this year 
Towson has allowed 10 sacks this year and have averaged 5.3 yards per carry
 
Eastern Illinois
Senior LT Dominic Pagliara (6-6, 307), r-freshman RT Jimmy Lowery (6-4, 282), senior RG Alex Pierce (6-6, 330), junior LG Collin Seibert (6-4, 277), sophomore center Nick Borre (6-4, 300)
- Has allowed 17 sacks this year
- Seibert and Pagliara made first team All-OVC
- Borre made second team All-OVC

Advantage: Towson
 
Defense

Defensive line
Towson
Senior DT Arnold Farmer (6-1, 325), sophomore DT Jon Desir (6-5, 310), junior DE Drew Cheripko (6-4, 275), junior DE Ryan Delaire (6-4, 245)
- Delaire has 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss; 2013 first team All-CAA
- Farmer has 34 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks
- Desir has 46 tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one QB hurry and one interception
- Cheripko has six sacks and 45 tackles
 
Eastern Illinois
Senior DT Jon Voytilla (6-3, 297), sophomore DT Dino Fanti (6-1, 273), sophomore DE Fedney Delphonse (6-3, 234), senior DE Pat Wertz (6-4, 254)
- Wertz leads the team with 6.5 sacks and is second with 10 tackles for loss
- Wertz has five fumble recoveries, five pass breakups and four QB hurries; first team All-OVC

- Fanti is second team All-OVC; has 5.0 sacks and 14 tackles for loss with three fumble recoveries

Advantage: Towson
 
Linebackers
Towson
Seniors Monte Gaddis (6-0, 230) and Telvion Clark (6-1, 230), senior Alex DiSanzo (6-3, 240)
- Gaddis was second team All-CAA last year and second team this year
- Gaddis has two interceptions, seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 96 tackles this year

- Clark leads the team with 116 tackles and has 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries with one TD return
- Clark was named first team All-CAA in 2013

 
Eastern Illinois
Junior MLB Robert Haynes (6-0, 234), junior WLB Adam Gristick (5-10, 227), senior SLB LeQuince McCall (6-1, 229)
- Haynes ranks second on the team with 70 tackles, adding two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss; second team All-OVC this year
- McCall has 50 tackles, six tackles for loss, two interceptions, three pass breakups and one forced fumble
- Gristick adds 57 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries
 
Advantage: Towson (slight)
 
Secondary
Towson
Sophomore CB/S Donnell Lewis (5-10, 180), senior CB Jordan Love (6-1, 180), junior Tye Smith (6-0, 170), junior SS Thomas Bradley (6-2, 210), sophomore FS Christian Carpenter (6-2, 185)
- Smith ranks third on the team in tackles with 87, has two forced fumbles, one sack, two interceptions and 11 pass breakups; was named second team All-CAA in 2013
- Love has 51 tackles and nine pass breakups; was named to first team All-CAA in 2013 
- Lewis has 75 tackles, two forced fumbles, four interceptions (one returned for a TD) and two fumble recoveries including one returned for a touchdown
- Carpenter has 75 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups and 2.5 tackles for loss; was named to first team All-CAA in 2013
 
Eastern Illinois
Senior CB Alex McNulty (6-2, 189), senior CB Pete Houlihan (5-11, 185), senior FS Nick Beard (6-1, 193), junior rover Jourdan Wickliffe (6-1, 195)
- Wickliffe leads the Panthers with 87 tackles, adding three interceptions, four forced fumbles and eight pass breakups; was named to first team All-OVC
- Houlihan ranks third on the team in tackles with 62, adding four pass breakups and one pick
- Beard has 41 tackles eight pass breakups and one sack; was named to first team All-OVC
- McNulty has 50 tackles, three picks and two fumble recoveries
 

Advantage: Eastern Illinois (slight)
 
Special Teams

Towson
Senior PK D.J. Soven, P freshman Jake Ryder, P/PK Drew Evangelista, P Connor Frazier, PR Brian Dowling, KR Derrick Joseph
- Evangelista has made five of 11 field goal attempts including a long of 50
- Soven has made two of three field goals this year, one was from 51 yards and another from 49
- Ryder is averaging 38.7 yards per punt
- Evangelista averages 35.1  yards per punt
- Frazier has punted three times

- Joseph is averaging 24.3 yards per kick return, including two returned for a touchdown; was named third team All-CAA as a kick returner
- Dowling is averaging 3.6 yards per punt return
 
Eastern Illinois
Senior PK Cameron Berra, P Scott Weatherford, PR/KR Shepard Little, KR Trey Pendergrass
- Berra has made six of 16 kicks including a long of 40 and has three blocked
- Weatherford averages 36.6 yards per punt and has nine inside the 20
- Little averages 23.5 yards per return on punts and has two returns for touchdown
- Pendergrass averages 21.9 yards per kick return with a long of 76
- Little averages 21.5 yards per kick return
 
Advantage: Even

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