TOWSON, Md. - Coming off a loss to undefeated New Hampshire in their Colonial Athletic Association opener, Coach Rob Ambrose and the Tigers will travel to the University of Rhode Island on Saturday, October 10 to face the Rams at Meade Stadium at 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast back to the Baltimore area on WNST-Radio (1570 AM) with Spiro Morekas and Tom Judd calling the action.
Now 1-3 on the season and 0-1 in the CAA, the Tigers will be facing Rhode Island for the tenth time. Although URI owns a 5-4 series lead, Towson has won the last two meetings. In 2005, the Tigers pulled out a 23-14 win at Meade Stadium. Last season, Towson edged the Rams by 37-32 at Johnny Unitas® Stadium. This will be the fifth game played between these teams in Kingston, R.I. Each team has won twice at Meade Stadium.
Towson picked up a 35-14 win at URI in 1986 and earned a 23-14 win in 2005. The Rams beat Towson by 40-21 in 1990 and 36-19 in 1992.
Going into Saturday's game, there are some remarkable similarities between the two teams. Like Towson, Rhode Island owns a 1-3 overall record and has an 0-1 mark in the CAA. Like Towson, URI has lost to an NCAA FBS opponent. Like Towson, Rhode Island has a first-year coach, Joe Trainer.
After opening the season with a 41-28 win over Fordham, the Rams have lost to Massachusetts (30-10), Connecticut (52-10) and Brown (28-20).
The Tigers, who have lost 13 consecutive road games, will be trying to bounce back from an odd 57-7 loss to sixth-ranked New Hampshire. The Wildcats, who beat Towson for the sixth time in a row, broke the game wide open by scoring 30 points during a stretch of 3:50 in the first quarter.
UNH used a blocked punt to set up a 20-yard touchdown drive for a 7-0 lead. Moments later, an interception set up a 31-yard scoring drive to make it 14-0. The Wildcats stretched their lead to 16-0 when a bad snap on a punt led to a safety. An 81-yard touchdown return of the free kick by Sean Jellison gave UNH a 23-0 advantage. When Dino Vasso intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, the Wildcats owned a 30-0 lead with 7:16 remaining in the first quarter.
Despite the fact that New Hampshire scored 57 points, the Tiger defense actually played pretty well. The Tiger defense held UNH to 16 first downs and 285 total yards. The Wildcats had one 60-yard scoring drive and a 51-yard drive. However, UNH took advantage of eight Tiger turnovers. New Hampshire scored 24 points off turnovers and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The UNH defense scored 14 points while special teams contributed nine points.
Wide receiver Alex Blake, a first-year freshman, scored the Tigers' only touchdown of the game when he caught a 24-yard TD pass from quarterback Peter Athens in the second quarter. Athens suffered his worst game as the Tigers' quarterback when he threw five interceptions and lost a fumble when he was sacked.
The Tigers made 15 tackles for lost yardage and recorded three quarterback sacks. Linebacker Danzel White, a "red shirt" freshman, led the defense with a career high 15 tackles. Senior linebacker Alex Butt also made a career high 12 tackles while defensive end Brady Smith had six tackles, including a sack.
After the game, Coach Ambrose said, "New Hampshire has the type of football program we'd like to have. It took them 15 years to get there. Obviously, we aren't there yet."
After four games, the vastly-improved Tiger defense is ranked eighth in the CAA, allowing 330 yards per game. Towson's defense is giving up 121 rushing yards per game, seventh in the CAA.
With 42 tackles in four games, White ranks fourth in the CAA in tackles. Butt has made 27 tackles in four games and he ranks 18th in the CAA in tackles.
Junior defensive tackle Yaky Ibia and Smith rank among the top defensive linemen in the CAA in tackles. Ibia has 25 tackles to date and he is tied fifth in the conference. Ibia has made 6.5 tackles for lost yardage, fourth in the CAA. With 26 tackles, Smith is tied for third among CAA defensive linemen. He leads Towson with two quarterback sacks.
Athens, the Tigers' starting quarterback in all four games, has completed 46 of 86 passes for 487 yards and five touchdowns. Tremayne Dameron, a "red shirt" freshman, leads the Tigers' running game. The fifth-leading rusher in the CAA, Dameron has run for 301 yards on 78 carries. He has scored one touchdown.
"We are hoping that the Rhode Island coaching staff sees our score against New Hampshire and overlook us," says Coach Ambrose. "They have a well-coached team and I know we're going to have our hands full this week."
After facing Rhode Island, the Tigers return to Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday, October 17 when they host Delaware in their Homecoming Game.
TIGER TIDBITS: The Tigers have suffered some serious injuries in the past few weeks, testing the team's depth ... The team has also been affected by illness ... Senior tight end John Godlasky, a third-year starter, has missed the last two games due to appendicitis ... Godlasky, who had started 25 consecutive games, could return to the lineup this week ... Matt Morgan, the starting defensive end in the first three games, sat out the New Hampshire game due to illness ... Frank Beltre, a "red shirt" freshman, made his first career start at defensive end against UNH.
The Tigers' special teams have been hit hard by injuries ... Junior place kicker Jon Boyer suffered a serious knee injury during practice last week and he will be out of action for a while ... Freshman Marc Magas handled the place kicking duties against New Hampshire and scored his first career point in the second quarter when he converted an extra point ... Junior Chris Sheahin, the Tigers' long snapper, sustained a knee injury during practice last week and did not play against UNH ... Tony Zaccarelli, a tight end, handled the long snapping duties against the Wildcats ... Sheahin could return to action this week.
Sophomore cornerback Nick Oates has missed the last two games with a knee injury ... It is not known when he will return ... B.J. Greening, a first-year freshman running back, suffered a shoulder injury in the season opener at Northwestern and has not returned to action.
Since a 37-32 win over Rhode Island on October 11, 2008, the Tigers have lost six consecutive CAA games ... The Tigers' last road victory was a 28-21 win over Morgan State on September 8, 2007.
The Towson-New Hampshire game drew a crowd of 8,026 to Johnny Unitas® Stadium ... It was the sixth largest crowd ever to see a game at Unitas Stadium ... The Tigers' 57-7 loss to UNH was their worst-ever loss at Unitas Stadium ... Previously, the worst loss was a 54-10 defeat at the hands of Indiana (Pa.) in 1991.
Fifth-ranked New Hampshire was the first of five top 15 teams that the Tigers will face in the final eight weeks of the season ... In the coming weeks, Towson will play #1-ranked Richmond (Oct. 31), #2 Villanova (Nov. 14), #8 William & Mary (Nov. 7) and #14 James Madison (Nov. 21).