FOOTBALL: Injury-Plagued Tigers Host #3 Villanova In Home Finale On Saturday
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 11/13/2009
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Brady Smith is one of 14 seniors who will play in their final home game.
Courtesy:Scott Thornton

    Towson-Villanova Game Notes (Nov. 14, 2009)
TOWSON, Md. - For the third consecutive week, Coach Rob Ambrose and the injury-riddled Towson University football team will be facing a nationally-ranked Colonial Athletic Association powerhouse as they host third-ranked Villanova University in their final home game of the season at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m.

Saturday's home finale will be Heroes In Uniform Day. All service personnel in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) or with a valid I.D. card will receive free admission to the game. They may purchase additional tickets for $8.00 each.

In addition, Wounded Warrior is going to be present at the game. Two wounded warriors, Jennifer Stokes of Laurel, Md. and Claude Boushey of LaPlata, Md., will be honored for their service.

It will also be "Take A Kid To The Game" Day on Saturday. With the purchase of one adult ticket, fans can receive two free youth tickets.

The first 1,000 fans to go through the gates will receive a Towson Tiger Camouflage Hat, courtesy of Pepsi.

Prior to kickoff, the Tigers will be honoring 16 seniors on the occasion of their final home game. Defensive tackle Alex Avolio, place kicker Jon Boyer, offensive tackle Dan Bridges, linebacker Alex Butt, wide receiver Casey Cegles, tight end John Godlasky, defensive tackle/student assistant Richard Lee, wide receiver David Newsom, quarterback Blair Peterson, punter Bill Shears, defensive end Brady Smith, offensive tackle Leon Stevenson, wide receiver Tamba Tongu and tight end Wes White will be recognized in pre-game ceremonies. In addition, team managers Mike Lewandowski and Travis Punt will be honored.

When they host Villanova on Saturday, the Tigers will be facing a team that is coming off a 21-20 win over defending national champion Richmond. The Wildcats came from behind and edged #1 Richmond last week, ending the Spiders' 17-game winning streak. Villanova is now 8-1 on the season and 5-1 in the CAA.

"Villanova is a very fast team and their running game is incredibly explosive," says Coach Ambrose. "They are a better running team than a passing team and their quarterback (Chris Whitney) can do both. On defense, they are fast and aggressive. They have a veteran team and I'm sure they are going to be a strong contender for the national championship."

Whitney, the CAA Offensive Player of the Week, leads a balanced running attack by averaging 63.2 yards per game. The sixth-leading rusher in the CAA, he has also thrown for 1,252 yards and 14 touchdowns.

As a team, Villanova is averaging 209.7 yards per game, a mark that leads the CAA and ranks tenth in the nation. Villanova has only turned the ball over nine times in nine games and has a plus-ten turnover ratio.

On defense, the Wildcats are allowing only 13.7 points per game, second in the CAA.

The Tigers, who have lost to #1 Richmond and #5 William & Mary the last two weeks, have been severely impacted by injuries, especially on offense. When senior offensive tackle Dan Bridges left the William & Mary game with a thigh injury, he became the fourth different offensive lineman to be sidelined with an injury. Ten different offensive linemen have started games for Towson this season.

In addition, the Tigers lost quarterback Peter Athens to a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago.

With so many injuries on the offensive unit, it has been very hard to sustain any consistency on offense. In the first six games of the season, Towson averaged 18.0 points and 285.0 yards of total offense per game. The Tigers were also averaging 143.2 rushing yards per contest. Since the injuries started to mount, the Tigers have managed to score only 21 points in the last three games, a 7.0 average. In the last three games, they have averaged only 53.3 rushing yards per game and 191.7 yards of total offense.

"I am not sure who we're going to put out there on the field," says Coach Ambrose. "But I can promise that the guys who are out there will play hard."

While the defense hasn't been impacted by injuries as much as the offense, two of the three starting linebackers, junior Donte Blakey and senior Alex Butt, have been sidelined. Blakey has missed the last five games with a neck injury while Butt sat out the William & Mary game with a shoulder injury. Butt, who had made 20 consecutive starts before missing the game at William & Mary, could return to action this week.

Linebacker Danzel White, a "red shirt" freshman, leads the Tiger defense. He has made a team high 94 tackles and recovered two fumbles. White ranks third in the CAA, averaging 10.4 tackles per game.

Junior cornerback Jeremy Gardner and sophomore safety Danny Collins rank among the team leaders in tackles. Gardner has made 55 tackles in nine games, a 6.1 average. He ranks fourth among CAA defensive backs in tackles. Collins has 53 tackles and ranks fifth among CAA defensive backs.

Senior Brady Smith and junior Yaky Ibia also rank among the CAA's top defensive linemen. A solid candidate for All-CAA honors, Smith has made 49 tackles. Averaging 5.4 tackles per game, he ranks sixth among CAA defensive linemen in tackles. Ibia has made 47 tackles in eight games and stands fourth in the CAA with 5.9 tackles per game. Ibia also leads the Tigers with ten tackles for lost yardage.

Allowing 182.7 yards per game, the Tigers are ranked fourth in the CAA in pass defense. Towson is giving up 164.1 rushing yards per game, ninth in the CAA. Towson is also ninth in total defense, allowing 346.8 total yards per contest.

Although the Tigers are tenth in the CAA in scoring defense with a 34.4 average, that number is deceptive. While Towson has allowed 310 points in nine 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.

After last season's game between the Tigers and the Wildcats, Villanova is approaching this week's game with some extra focus. Last year, the Tigers faced Villanova in Philadelphia late in the season. At the time, the Wildcats were ranked sixth in the nation. Villanova was forced to overcome a 17-7 second quarter deficit and held on for a 34-31 victory. Villanova went on to earn a berth in the NCAA FCS Playoffs and reached the national quarter-finals.

After hosting Villanova in their final home game, the Tigers close out the season at James Madison University on Saturday, November 21.

TIGER TIDBITS:  Towson and Villanova will be meeting for the sixth time when they meet on Saturday ... Villanova holds a 3-2 series lead ... The Wildcats have won the last two meetings by a total of five points ... In 2007, Villanova edged Towson, 14-12 ... Last year, Villanova won by 34-31.

The Tigers, who have played one of the toughest schedules in NCAA FCS, have already played four nationally-ranked FCS teams ... Towson has lost to #6 New Hampshire, #23 Delaware, #1 Richmond and #5 William & Mary ... Towson also played  an NCAA BCS team, Northwestern University, in the season opener.

In nine games to date, Towson has accumulated 1,019 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.

When the Tigers were shut out by William & Mary, it marked their first shutout since October 14, 2006 when they dropped a 35-0 decision to Massachusetts.

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