Tigers Resume Schedule at #10 New Hampshire
Courtesy: TBD  
Release: 10/20/2008
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Jordan Manning leads the Tigers with 58 tackles.
Courtesy:TBD


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TOWSON, Md. After winning two of its last three games, Towson University will face one of its toughest assignments of the season when the Tigers, now 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association, visit 10th-ranked University of New Hampshire (5-1, 2-1) at Cowell Stadium on Saturday afternoon at 12:00 noon.

The Towson-New Hampshire game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet with Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh calling the action. The game will be shown in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Coming off four consecutive NCAA FCS Playoff appearances, the Wildcats are off to another great start this year. UNH opened its season with four straight wins, including an impressive 28-10 season-opening victory at Army. After a last-minute 38-34 loss to William & Mary, the Wildcats bounced back with a 33-21 victory over Northeastern on Saturday.

The Tigers, who were idle last week, will be seeking their first-ever win over New Hampshire. UNH owns a 4-0 series lead over Towson in a series that started in 1980. Since the schools became conference rivals, the Wildcats have won both contests, including a 62-24 win in New Hampshire in 2004 and a 62-21 victory at Johnny Unitas Stadium in 2005.

“I think the bye week came at a good time for us,” says Coach Gordy Combs. “Hopefully, we will come out of the bye week mentally and physically refreshed. We need to be ready to play because the last five games on our schedule are very challenging.

“We are playing pretty well right now,” he added. “We’ve won two of our last three games and we played pretty well in the first half of the game we lost to Northeastern. We’ve gotten some injured players back and that has helped us. Some of our younger players are also maturing. We feel good about where we are right now.”

In their last outing, the Tigers earned their first CAA victory of the season when they edged Rhode Island, 37-32. In that game, senior quarterback Sean Schaefer (Northern H.S./Dunkirk, Md.) completed 25 of 34 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns. In the win, he became the 20th NCAA FCS quarterback to pass for 10,000 career yards.

When the Tigers face New Hampshire, they will be contending with the top offensive team in the CAA. UNH is averaging 437.8 yards per game of total offense. The Wildcats are also averaging 36.7 points per game, second in the CAA.

New Hampshire is a very balanced team,” says Coach Combs. “That makes them very difficult to defend. We have to keep them from making big plays. Big plays have really hurt us all year.”

Coach Combs feels that the Tigers’ offense has come together. In the last three games, Towson scored 85 points, an average of 28.3 points per game. While Schaefer has thrown for 924 yards and six touchdowns, junior tailback Matt Castor (Linganore H.S./Frederick, Md.) has also been very effective. In the last three games, he has rushed for 277 yards and scored four touchdowns.

  Coming off the 12th 300-yard passing game of his career, Schaefer is averaging 264.7 passing yards per game, tops in the CAA. He has completed 164 of 251 passes for 1,853 yards with nine interceptions and 13 touchdowns. In his career, Schaefer has now completed 905 of 1402 passes for a .646 percentage, all school records. He has also passed for 10,211 yards and 64 touchdowns.

Sophomore Steve Holmes (Old Mill H.S./Severn, Md.) leads the Tigers in receiving with 35 receptions for 384 yards and a touchdown. He is the sixth-leading receiver in the CAA. Junior David Newsom (Elizabeth H.S./Elizabeth, N.J.) is second on the team with 33 catches for 431 yards. The eighth-leading receiver in the CAA, Newsom scored the first touchdown of his college career when he caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Schaefer in the Tigers’ win over Rhode Island.

Senior wide receiver Marcus Lee (St. John’s College H.S./Silver Spring, Md.), a pre-season All-CAA pick, has caught 28 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Lee, who has caught at least one pass in all 40 games of his college career, is the second-leading receiver in Towson history with 195 catches for 2,162 yards and 11 touchdowns. With five games remaining in his career, he needs to catch 25 more passes to pass Jamal White, ’02 and become the Tigers’ all-time pass receiving leader.

In the win over Rhode Island, the Tigers unveiled a new defensive lineup as senior linebacker Jordan Manning (St. Joseph H.S./Mays Landing, N.J.) moved from his outside linebacker position to an inside spot. As a result, Manning made 11 tackles and the Tiger defense held URI in check for three quarters.

The sixth-leading tackler in the CAA, Manning has made 58 tackles in seven games. With 291 career tackles, he is sixth on Towson’s all-time list and needs nine tackles to become the sixth player in school history with 300 career tackles.

For the second game in a row, the Tigers’ pass defense will be facing a prolific passing game. Led by sophomore quarterback R.J. Toman, New Hampshire is averaging 257.3 yards per game. Toman has completed 131 of 185 passes for 1492 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Senior strong safety Drew Mack (Buena Regional H.S./Landisville, N.J.) leads the Tiger secondary which broke up ten passes in the win over Rhode Island. In four games, Mack has made 38 tackles and has broken up five passes. Sophomore cornerback Ollie Thomas (Potomac H.S./Oxon Hill, Md.) has also been playing well. He is tied for second on the team with 39 tackles and leads the Tigers with seven pass breakups. Thomas also has one interception.

Nose tackle Rob Osborne, a true freshman from Clarksburg High School and Gaithersburg, Md., has given the Tigers quite a lift, both defensively and offensively. Since joining the starting lineup two games ago, Osborne has made 11 tackles with two sacks. He has also made an impact offensively, filling the role of blocking fullback in short-yardage situations.

TIGER TALES:  Thanks in part to the efforts of senior place kicker Mark Benicvengo (Steinert H.S./Hamilton, N.J.), the Tigers lead the CAA in kickoff coverage with a 45.0 net average ... Bencivengo is averaging 64.8 yards per kickoff and 6 of his 30 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks ... Bencivengo leads the Tigers in scoring with 28 points ... He has made 4 of 6 field goal attempts, including a 41-yard field goal and a 40-yarder.

Towson and New Hampshire rank one-two in the CAA in third down conversions entering this week’s action ... UNH leads the CAA by converting 37 of 78 third down attempts (.474) while Towson is second with 49 conversions in 104 attempts (.471).

New Hampshire is the second nationally-ranked team that Towson is facing this season ... In September, the Tigers dropped a 45-14 decision at fourth-ranked Richmond.

After their trip to New Hampshire, the Tigers return home on Saturday, November 1 when they host William & Mary at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 12 noon.

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