TOWSON, Md. – Junior running back Terrance West, a strong candidate for the Walter Payton Award, ran for 82 yards on 16 carries and tied a school record by scoring five touchdowns as the No. 4 Tigers (3-0) rolled past Delaware State (0-2) by a 49-7 margin before a crowd of 10,302 at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday evening.
The victory was Towson’s seventh in a row, dating back to last season. The Tigers have the second-longest winning streak in FCS football. No. 1 North Dakota State has won 11 games in a row.
By scoring five touchdowns against the Hornets, West tied the school record for touchdowns in a game, a mark set by former All-American Tony Vinson, ’94 against Morgan State in 1993. He also set the Unitas Stadium record for touchdowns in a game.
West, who has scored nine touchdowns in three games this season, increased his career record total to 53 TD’s.
Although the Tiger offense exploded for 49 points, the defensive unit was dominant. The Tiger defense forced four turnovers and held the Hornets to one touchdown.
“I love the way this team prepares for every game,” said Coach Rob Ambrose. “This group is so mature in the way they do things. They act so professional and it’s a coach’s dream to have a group like this.”
Midway through the first quarter, the Hornets drove deep into Towson territory. However, sophomore Christian Carpenter intercepted a Cory Murphy pass at the goal line and returned it all the way to the Delaware State seven-yard line. However, the Tigers were penalized for holding on the return and they took over at their own 17-yard line.
The Tigers scored the first touchdown of the game when quarterback Peter Athens led an 83-yard, 12-play drive that consumed 4:13 off the clock. Athens passed for 42 yards on the drive. West scored the go-ahead touchdown with a one-yard run.
Early in the second quarter, senior linebacker Monte Gaddis picked off a pass at the Hornets’ 38-yard line and returned it to the Delaware State three-yard line. Two plays later, West scored on a three-yard run, the 50th touchdown of his career. That gave Towson a 14-0 lead with 14:29 left in the second quarter.
After a short punt, the Tigers started their next possession at the Hornets’ 48-yard line. On the sixth play of the drive, West scored on another one-yard run to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead. Later in the second quarter, the Tigers marched 56 yards in 12 plays for another touchdown. The Hornets’ defense actually kept Towson out of the end zone after the Tigers had a first-and-goal at the two-yard line. However, on fourth down, West found the end zone again to give the Tigers a 28-0 advantage.
Just before halftime, the Tigers turned another Delaware State turnover into a touchdown. Sophomore cornerback Donnell Lewis forced a fumble and recovered at the Towson 49-yard line. Five plays later, Athens fired a seven-yard touchdown pass to junior Derrick Joseph, giving the Tigers a 35-0 lead at halftime.
In the first half, the Tigers held the Hornets to 75 total yards while accumulating 279 total yards.
The Tigers continued to build their lead in the third quarter. On the opening kickoff of the second half, Joseph returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 42-0 advantage. It was the third time in his career that he returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He is the first player in school history to return three kickoffs for touchdowns in his career.
The Hornets’ fourth turnover of the game enabled the Tigers to up their lead to 49-0. Murphy was sacked by junior defensive tackle Arnold Farmer, who forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Ryan Delaire at the Delaware State 29-yard line. Four plays later, West scored on a 17-yard touchdown run as he tied the school record for touchdowns in a game.
With the Tigers leading by 49-0 early in the third quarter, Ambrose pulled his starters and substituted freely.
“At halftime, we decided that we would pull our starters after the first two series of the second half,” he said. “I would be the dumbest coach in America if I left the starters in and someone got hurt.
“It was great to get our younger guys so much playing time tonight,” he added.
The Hornets scored their only touchdown of the game when Murphy threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Williams, capping off a 67-yard, 10-play drive.
Athens completed 16 of 24 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers while West picked up 82 yards on 16 carries. Sophomore Navassa Brown added 59 yards on 12 carries as the Tigers ran for 199 yards on 49 attempts.
The Tiger defense held the Hornets to 15 rushing yards as the Tigers sacked Murphy five times. Murphy completed 26 of 53 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice. Williams led the Hornets’ receivers with nine catches for 105 yards and one touchdown.
Lewis led the Tiger defense with six tackles and a pass breakup. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Freshman DeAngelo Stephenson also made six tackles. Farmer had five tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
For the Tigers, it marked the second straight week that they posted a 49-7 win. Towson beat Holy Cross last week, 49-7.
The Tigers, who play four of their first five games on the road, travel to North Carolina Central next week.