TOWSON, Md. – Sophomore Terrance West scored three touchdowns and Derrick Joseph had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as Towson University (2-1) raced to a 43-14 halftime lead en route to a 46-17 non-conference victory over St. Francis (Pa.) before a Homecoming crowd of 9,828 at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday night.
West, who ran for 62 yards on only eight carries, became Towson’s career leader when he scored the 34th rushing touchdown of his career with 5:47 remaining in the first half. In only the 14th game of his college career, West surpassed the old record of 33 rushing touchdowns set by Jason Corle.
West scored all three touchdowns in the first half as Towson scored 29 consecutive points to take a 29-7 lead.
The evening started poorly for the Tigers when Ter’Shaudney Phillips intercepted a pass and returned it to the Towson 42-yard line. Three plays later, senior Keion Wade gave the Red Flash a 7-0 when he scored on a two-yard run with 10:23 left in the first quarter.
The Red Flash’s lead was short-lived though. Moments later, Joseph returned a kickoff 99 yards for a game-tying touchdown. It was the second time in his short career that he returned a kickoff for a touchdown, tying the school record he shares with Maurice Sydnor and David Meggett.
With 8:11 left in the first quarter, West scored on a two-yard touchdown run only two plays after Tye Smith recovered a fumble. West added his second touchdown of the game on a 25-yard run with 2:15 left in the period, giving Towson a 21-7 advantage.
Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Grant Enders fired an eight-yard touchdown pass to senior Tom Ryan. Kicker D.J. Soven upped the lead to 29-7 after the touchdown pass when he scored on a two-point conversion.
The Red Flash responded with a six-yard touchdown run by Dan Conley, cutting the deficit to 29-14.
Once again, Joseph ignited the Tigers with a 49-yard kickoff return to the St. Francis 39-yard line. Three plays later, West scored his school record 34th career rushing touchdown to give Towson a 36-14 lead.
With 23 seconds left in the half, Enders threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Gerrard Sheppard, capping a seven-play, 79-yard drive that gave Towson a 43-14 lead at intermission.
“This was a great environment to play in,” said St. Francis Coach Chris Villarrial. “Towson came out focused and played well. They capitalized on our mistakes. Towson is a very good team. There is a reason that they are ranked and I’m sure they’ll be in the playoffs again.
“Terrance West is probably the best running back in FCS football,” he added. “We came in here with the intention of wrapping him up as much as we could. But we didn’t get it done. He is built like an NFL back and I think he is a legitimate Division I-A (FBS) running back.”
In the second half, the Tiger substituted liberally and ran out the clock. Soven’s 40-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the third quarter wrapped up the scoring.
St. Francis, which came into the game as the sixth-leading rushing team in FCS football at 302 yards per game, was held to 179 rushing yards by the Tiger defense. The Red Flash only passed for 54 yards and finished with 233 yards of total offense.
Enders completed 14 of 18 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The Tigers also ran for 262 yards, the second straight week that they topped 200 yards.
“To me, one of the most impressive things about tonight was our student turnout,” said Coach Rob Ambrose. “We had a monsoon-like rain only 20 minutes before kickoff but I looked over there and we had about 3,000 students ready to cheer us on. That means so much to our team
“It makes me very, very proud to be an alumnus of Towson,” he added. “I can remember when we would play our Homecoming Game on a beautiful day and we couldn’t get that many students to come.”
The Tigers, who have won two games in a row, return to action next Saturday night when they face No. 2 Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, La. The game will be televised on ESPNU.