TOWSON, Md. - After evening their record at 1-1 with a 21-17 victory over Coastal Carolina in their home opener, Coach Rob Ambrose and the Tigers will make the five-mile trip to Hughes Stadium on Saturday afternoon when they face rival Morgan State University (1-1) at 4:00 p.m.
It will be the 22nd meeting between the two schools in a rivalry that dates back to 1979. Although Towson owns a 16-5 series lead, most of the recent games have been very close. In fact, seven of the last ten games have been decided by seven points or less.
Bill Bateman's in Towson will be hosting a pre-game tailgate at the restaurant for all fans that want to get together before heading over to Hughes Stadium on Morgan State's campus. Bateman's is offering $0.49 per wing special in any flavor you want along with drink specials.
Since 1998, Towson and Morgan have played every season except one. The schools didn't meet in 2004 because Morgan State had the chance to play a major college opponent.
Last year, Towson rallied from a 16-7 halftime deficit to pull out a 21-16 win. Two years ago, the Tigers pulled out a 28-21 decision at Morgan State. In 2005, the Tigers won on a field goal by Ron Halbruner with one second remaining, 29-26. In the season opener in 2003, Morgan edged Towson, 19-16.
In 2001, the teams played the only overtime game of the series when Towson edged Morgan, 20-17. Towson has won five of the seven games played at Hughes Stadium.
Like Towson, Morgan State comes into this weekend with a 1-1 record. After a season-opening loss at Akron, the Bears pulled out a 16-10 overtime win against Winston-Salem State in the 38th annual Whitney Young Classic at Giants Stadium on Saturday.
Senior quarterback Carlton Jackson led Morgan to the win by completing 16 of 21 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns. In the overtime period, he threw a game-winning 15-yard TD pass to senior Edwin Baptiste to pull out the win. In his eighth season as the Bears' coach, Donald Hill-Eley has a 37-44 record. However, prior to his arrival at Morgan in 2002, the Bears had not enjoyed a winning season in 23 years.
"This has always been a classic rivalry," says Coach Ambrose, who has participated in the rivalry as a Tiger football player and assistant coach. "I think both programs have a lot of respect for each other. Coach Hill-Eley has done a tremendous job over there. His teams always play hard and they play intelligently. This is going to be a difficult challenge for us to go over there and earn a win."
The Tigers, who are seeking their fifth consecutive victory over Morgan, have a very young team that is led by freshman quarterbacks Peter Athens and Tommy Chroniger. Athens completed 13 of 18 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers' win over Coastal Carolina. He was honored as the Colonial Athletic Association "Rookie of the Week" for his performance.
Seniors Dave Newsom and Casey Cegles have been the Tigers' top receivers in the first two games. Newsom has caught 11 passes for 122 yards and scored three touchdowns to date. Averaging 5.5 receptions per game, he leads the CAA. Cegles has caught six passes for 67 yards this season.
Tailback Tremayne Dameron, a "red shirt" freshman, has been Towson's top ball carrier this season. In two games, he has accumulated 179 all-purpose yards. The seventh-leading rusher in the CAA, he has run for 117 yards on 35 carries with one touchdown. He has also caught eight passes for 62 yards.
Junior defensive tackle Yaky Ibia has also played very well in the first two games of the season. After making a career high six tackles at Northwestern in the season opener, he topped that mark with seven tackles in the win over Coastal Carolina.
Junior cornerback Jeremy Gardner is fourth on the team with 12 tackles. He made a team high eight tackles and intercepted a pass in the win over Coastal Carolina.
In the victory over Coastal Carolina, the Tigers intercepted two passes as Gardner and sophomore Danny Collins picked off passes. It marked the first time since Nov. 11, 2006 when they had three interceptions in a 31-7 win at Richmond. That was a stretch of 26 games.
The Tigers have intercepted three passes in their first two games, matching their entire 2008 season total when they intercepted three passes in 12 contests.
Defensively, the Tigers did well defending against Coastal's running game. Towson held the Chanticleers to only 94 rushing yards on 28 attempts while recording a pair of sacks. It was the first time that the Tiger defense held its opponent under 100 yards rushing since Towson's 37-32 win over Rhode Island on October 11, 2008.
Led by Dameron, the Tigers ran for 138 yards on 45 attempts. That enabled the Tigers to outgain their opponents on the ground for the first time since Towson's 31-24 win over Columbia on September 27, 2008.
The Tiger defense will be challenged by senior tailback Devan James of Morgan State. A first team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection last year, he rushed for 178 yards on 33 carries against Towson last year. He finished the season with 1,337 rushing yards, second in the MEAC.
When the Tigers beat Coastal Carolina, they avenged a 31-3 loss to the Chanticleers in the 2008 season. They also snapped a six-game losing streak that dates back to October 11, 2008 when they beat Rhode Island, 37-32.
"That was a tremendous win for our players, our coaches, our staff, our school and our community," said Ambrose. "There's a vibe here now. Nobody is sure what it is yet - but there's some type of magic or karma. It was a great atmosphere on the field on Saturday night. There was a noticeable buzz in the stands."
When the Tigers make their shortest road trip of the season, they will be trying to snap a 12-game losing streak in road games. The Tigers have not won a road game since September 8, 2007 when they beat Morgan State, 28-21. Since that win, Towson has lost at Massachusetts, William & Mary, Colgate, Maine, James Madison, Navy, Richmond, Coastal Carolina, New Hampshire, Delaware, Villanova and Northwestern.
Ironically, when the Tigers beat Morgan State at Hughes Stadium in 2007, it was their sixth consecutive road victory.
After Saturday's game at Morgan State, the Tigers will return to Johnny Unitas® Stadium on October 3 when they open Colonial Athletic Association play against sixth-ranked New Hampshire at 3:30 p.m.
TIGER TIDBITS: The Tigers' top tackler, Smith leads all CAA defensive linemen with 16 tackles in two games ... Ibia, who has 13 tackles in two games, is tied for fourth among CAA defensive linemen.
For the first time since 2003, Sean Schaefer, '08 will not be playing quarterback for the Tigers when they face Morgan State ... In four games against Morgan in his career, Schaefer led Towson to a 4-0 record by completing 77 of 128 passes for 1,063 yards and ten touchdowns ... The Tigers' career leader in passing yards (11,644), Schaefer threw seven TD passes in the last two games against Morgan.
The Tigers' final eight games will be CAA contests ... The CAA is off to another impressive start this season as five teams (#1 Richmond, #2 Villanova, #5 William & Mary, #6 New Hampshire, #7 James Madison) are ranked among the top seven teams in the NCAA FCS ... The Tigers are scheduled to face all five of those Top Ten teams.