TOWSON, Md. - Facing one of the top teams in the nation for the second consecutive week, the Tigers will travel to William & Mary on Saturday to play the fifth-ranked Tribe on Saturday afternoon at Zable Stadium at 1:30 p.m.
The Tigers, who are coming off a "closer than the score would indicate" loss to defending national champion Richmond on Saturday, will be seeking their first-ever win against the Tribe. William & Mary (7-1, 4-1) has won all six meetings between the schools.
The Towson-William & Mary game will be broadcast back to the Baltimore area on WNST-Radio (1570 AM) with Spiro Morekas and Tom Judd calling the action.
Under the direction of first-year Coach Rob Ambrose, the injury-riddled Tigers threw a scare into top-ranked Richmond on Halloween before falling, 42-14. The Spiders were forced to overcome a 14-13 third quarter deficit to win their 17th game in a row.
After the Tigers took a 14-13 lead on a 12-yard run by freshman quarterback Tommy Chroniger with 10:54 left in the third quarter, the Spiders came to life and scored the final 29 points of the game. During one stretch of the third period, the Spiders scored 22 points in 2:33 as they took advantage of two turnovers.
"For two-and-a-half quarters, we were doing what everyone else in the country thought was completely and utterly impossible," said Ambrose. "Again, we made some slight errors and they become monstrous errors when you play the best of the best. I am extremely proud of our players and coaches."
Now 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Tigers will need another great effort when they face William & Mary this week.
"Once again, we are playing the best of the best," Ambrose says. "It seems like this is what you face on a weekly basis in the CAA. We won't know which of our injured players will be available until later in the week. But we will work hard in practice and we will prepare well and we'll give it our best effort."
In recent weeks, injuries have forced the Tigers to improvise on their offensive line. Two weeks ago, Colin Bass, a "red shirt" freshman, made his first career start at offensive center. Against Richmond, offensive guard Tim Farley, another "red shirt" freshman, made the first start of his career.
Injuries have impacted the offensive line to the extent that senior Dan Bridges, the Tigers' right tackle, is the only offensive lineman who has started all eight games at the same position.
Freshman Peter Athens started the Tigers' first six games at quarterback before he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Delaware. He threw for 691 yards and six touchdowns before his season ended prematurely.
Since the injury to Athens, the Tigers have used Chroniger as their starter in the last two games. Junior Jeremy Jayne has also see action the last two weeks.
In the loss to top-ranked Richmond, Chroniger ran for 20 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown. He also completed 6 of 13 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. His 19-yard TD pass to senior tight end John Godlasky tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.
Linebacker Danzel White, a "red shirt" freshman, led the Tigers' defensive effort with a career high 16 tackles. He also recovered a fumble to stop Richmond's opening drive of the game. White leads the Tigers with 82 tackles in eight games, an average of 10.4 tackles per game. He is ranked fourth in the CAA in tackles.
Sophomore safety Danny Collins added a career high 12 tackles and forced a fumble against Richmond.
Senior defensive end Brady Smith also had a big game against the Spiders. He made nine tackles, including two for lost yardage. He also recovered a fumble. In eight games, Smith has made 47 tackles, including seven for lost yardage. He has two sacks and two fumble recoveries. A transfer from Boston College, he ranks fourth among CAA defensive linemen with 5.9 tackles per game.
Linebacker Romale Tucker, another "red shirt" freshman and a Syracuse transfer, made nine tackles, including a sack, against Richmond. Tucker has made 36 tackles this year, including 19 in the last two games.
Despite allowing a seasonal high 243 rushing yards against Richmond, the Tigers' run defense still ranks tenth in the CAA. Towson has surrendered an average of 166.2 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Tigers are ranked third in the CAA in pass defense, giving up 174.4 yards per contest. Towson ranks ninth in the CAA in total defense, allowing 340.6 yards per game.
Although the Tigers are 11th in the CAA in scoring defense with a 34.9 average, that number is deceptive. While Towson has allowed 279 points in eight games, 55 of those points were scored while the defense was on the sidelines. Tiger opponents have returned five interceptions for touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for TD's. In addition, the Tigers have allowed two safeties and a defensive two-point conversion.
With their offensive line riddled by injuries, the Tigers' offense has struggled the last two weeks. In the loss to Richmond, the Tigers were held to a season low 164 total yards.
While the Tigers faced the highest scoring team in the CAA last week, they will be playing the most-balanced offensive team in the CAA this week. Led by sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes, William & Mary ranks second in the CAA, averaging 180.1 rushing yards per game. The Tribe leads the CAA in total offense by averaging 384.8 yards per game. William & Mary is averaging 28.8 points per outing, fourth in the CAA.
After allowing 121 rushing yards to Richmond's Justin Forte, the Tiger defense will have to defend Grimes this week. Forte, the CAA's top rusher, is averaging 92.2 yards per game, just ahead of Grimes, who averages 86.9 yards per contest. He is also second in the CAA with 133.2 all-purpose yards per game.
Towson's game at #5 William & Mary is the second of three consecutive games against teams ranked in the top five of NCAA FCS. Next week, Towson hosts fourth-ranked Villanova in their final home game.
TIGER TIDBITS: In their 42-14 loss to Richmond, the Tigers set a school record for the fewest penalties in a game ... For the first time in the 426-game history of Towson football, the Tigers were not penalized ... Strangely enough, Richmond was only penalized once for 14 yards ... So, Towson and Richmond played a game in which there was just one penalty called for 14 yards ... The lone penalty of the game was a roughing-the-passer call against the Spiders in the third quarter.
The Tigers, who have played one of the toughest schedules in NCAA FCS, have played three nationally-ranked FCS teams ... Towson has lost to #6 New Hampshire, #23 Delaware and number one-ranked Richmond ... Towson also played an NCAA BCS team, Northwestern University, in the season opener.
In eight games to date, Towson has accumulated 947 net rushing yards ... This is already Towson's highest single season rushing total since the Tigers ran for 1,499 yards in the 2005 season.
Junior defensive lineman Kyle O'Brien of William & Mary is the son of Towson University's Head Athletic Trainer, Terry O'Brien ... Terry O'Brien is a 1975 Towson graduate who played football for the Tigers.
Towson has now gone 82 consecutive games without playing an overtime contest ... The Tigers have the third-longest non-overtime streak in NCAA FCS behind Jacksonville (95) and Weber State (90) ... Towson's last overtime game was a 34-31 double overtime loss at Cornell on October 5, 2002.