TOWSON, Md. - Returning to Johnny Unitas® Stadium, the Tigers will open their sixth season as members of the Colonial Athletic Association on Saturday, October 3 when they host the sixth-ranked team in the nation, the University of New Hampshire. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
The Towson-UNH will be televised by Comcast SportsNet with Bob Picozzi and Scott Brunner calling the action.
Saturday's game will be Baltimore County Day. All Baltimore County residents are eligible for a special discount on tickets to the Tigers' game against UNH. For Baltimore County residents to purchase tickets at the discounted rate of $8.00, they need to place their orders in advance. Tickets can be purchased by logging on to www.ticketmaster.com. Customers should enter COUNTY in the promo box. Standard Ticketmaster fees apply.
The Tigers' game against New Hampshire will also be a highlight of Towson University's Family Weekend.
The game sponsor is Chevy Chase Bank.
Saturday's game against New Hampshire has also been designated as the "Gold Rush." Gold tee-shirts, provided by the Auxiliary Services Department of Towson University, will be distributed to the first 1,000 fans to enter Unitas Stadium.
"We are jumping into the CAA in the deep end of the pool," says Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. "UNH has an outstanding football team. (Coach) Sean McDonnell has done a great job up there. They have tremendous continuity on their coaching staff and their success has been amazing. They've gone to the NCAA playoffs five years in a row and that says it all."
Off to a 3-0 start, New Hampshire has reached the quarter-final round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs four times in the last five years. Since the start of the 2004 season, the Wildcats have posted a 50-17 record.
More impressively, New Hampshire has won five consecutive games against NCAA FBS opponents. The Wildcats beat Rutgers in 2004 by 35-24. In 2006, UNH opened its season with a 34-17 victory at Northwestern. UNH handed Marshall a 48-35 loss in 2007 before opening the 2008 season with a 28-10 win at Army. Most recently, the Wildcats upset Ball State by 23-16 on Sept. 12.
The Tigers, now 1-2 on the season, are seeking their first-ever win over New Hampshire. New Hampshire has won all five previous meetings between the schools. The teams met for the first time in 1980 when Towson was an NCAA Division II program. UNH edged the Tigers, 10-6, in 1980. In 1981, the Wildcats avoided an upset with a 31-29 win over Towson in New Hampshire.
Towson and New Hampshire did not meet again until 2004 when the schools became conference rivals. Since then, UNH has dealt Towson three straight one-sided losses. In their three conference games, UNH has outscored Towson by a 166-59 margin. Last season, New Hampshire beat Towson, 42-14.
The Tigers are coming off a bizarre 12-9 loss at Morgan State last week. In a game that was played in very sloppy weather conditions, the Tigers held Morgan to six first downs and 161 yards of total offense. The Tiger defense also limited the Bears to 33 rushing yards on 33 attempts.
Meanwhile, Towson piled up 344 yards of total offense. The Tigers ran for 198 yards against the Bears, their best single game rushing total in nearly two years.
However, the Tigers couldn't score another touchdown as they came up with some untimely penalties and turned the ball over three times.
"We didn't finish," explained Coach Ambrose. "Morgan State deserved to win the game because they didn't make as many mistakes as we did. It seemed like every time we make a big play, there would be a penalty. It wasn't the number of penalties that hurt us. It was the timing of the penalties.
"That game was a good learning experience for our team," he added. "But it was a painful experience. Our preparation wasn't as good as it should have been and I'll take the blame for that. As a coach, you'd be very happy of your players could learn without being hurt. But that doesn't happen very often."
By holding Morgan to 33 rushing yards, the Tigers turned in their best defensive effort against the run since they held Lock Haven to 13 yards in a 70-0 victory on September 10, 2005.
The Tigers' vastly improved defense ranks sixth in the CAA against the run, allowing 116.0 yards per game. Last season, Towson set a school record by allowing 231.7 yards per game.
Linebacker Danzel White, a "red shirt" freshman, leads the Tigers with 27 tackles in three games. Senior linebacker Alex Butt has also been a reason for the Tigers' improved defensive play. He has 15 tackles in three games, including four tackles for lost yardage.
Led by senior defensive end Brady Smith and junior defensive tackle Yaky Ibia, the Tigers' defensive line has been very productive. Smith and Ibia have each made 20 tackles and are tied for second on the team. Ibia leads the team with five tackles for lost yardage with one quarterback sack. He ranks third in the CAA with five tackles for lost yardage.
Junior cornerback Jeremy Gardner is also playing well. He has 16 tackles this season, fourth on the team. Gardner led the Tigers to their 21-17 win over Coastal Carolina with eight tackles and an interception.
Offensively, the Tigers have been relying on a much-improved running game. Tremayne Dameron, a "red shirt" freshman, leads Towson with 243 yards rushing on 63 carries. The third-leading rusher in the CAA, he ran for 126 yards on 28 carries at Morgan State. It was Towson's best single game rushing performance since Nick Williams ran for 139 yards at William & Mary on September 29, 2007.
Averaging 133.0 rushing yards per game, the Tigers are ranked eighth in the CAA. Their current rushing average is more than double the 55.5 average they posted last season.
Senior wide receiver Dave Newsom has also been a key performer for the Tigers' offense. With 15 receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns, he is Towson's top receiver. Averaging five catches per game, he is tied for second in the CAA. Newsome is also third in the CAA with 70.7 receiving yards per game.
Newsom has also made an impact on special teams for the Tigers. He is averaging 9.0 yards per punt return, second in the CAA.
TIGER TIDBITS: The Tigers played without senior tight end John Godlasky when they faced Morgan State ... Godlasky, who had started 25 games in a row for the Tigers, suffered a case of appendicitis last week and required surgery ... It is unknown when he will return ... Freshman Tony Zaccarelli started in place of Godlasky and scored the first touchdown of his career in an unusual way ... After Newsom caught a long pass, he fumbled at the Morgan one-yard line ... Zaccarelli recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Hakeem Moore, who missed the first two games of the season with a hand injury, returned to action at Morgan State ... He should see more playing time this week.
Towson has a 1-4 mark in its five previous CAA openers ... The lone win was a 33-30 victory at Hofstra in 2006.