STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Freshman Darius Victor capped off a 96-yard, 10-play drive by scoring on a 31-yard run with 2:38 remaining as the No. 3 Tigers (5-0) rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit to stun Stony Brook University (1-3, 1-2) by a 35-21 margin in a Colonial Athletic Association game at LaValle Stadium on Saturday evening.
Sophomore Donnell Lewis provided an insurance touchdown with 42 seconds left when Ryan Delaire sacked quarterback Lyle Negron to force a fumble which Lewis returned for a 43-yard touchdown. That gave the Tigers a 35-21 advantage.
“In the first half, we basically gave then 14 points,” said Coach Rob Ambrose. “At halftime, we were confident that if we played the way we could, we would win this game. This is a team that plays together and they got it done. I couldn’t be more proud of a team.”
With the Tigers trailing by 21-20, a punt by Nick Ferraira pinned them back at their own four-yard line with 7:36 left in the game. A pair of runs by junior Terrance West moved the ball to the Towson 26. Facing third-and-three at their own 35-yard line, the Tigers converted a first down when quarterback Peter Athens scrambled for four yards. After West ran for eight yards on the next play, a personal foul penalty against Stony Brook gave Towson a first down at the Stony Brook 38-yard line.
Two plays later, the Tigers had a third-and-three at the Seawolves’ 31-yard line. Victor took the ball and went through a hole on the left side and broke into the clear for a 31-yard touchdown run to give Towson a 26-21 lead with 2:38 remaining. The Tigers tried for a two-point conversion and made it when Athens completed a pass to Spencer Wilkins.
The Tiger defense, which shut out Stony Brook in the second half, made a final stand in the last few minutes. After the Seawolves reached their own 49-yard line, Delaire sacked Negron on back-to-back plays. When he forced a fumble, Lewis picked it up and scored the first touchdown of his career. That gave Towson a 35-21 lead with 42 seconds left.
“The defense did a great job in the second half,” said Ambrose. “Our defensive coaches made some great adjustments and our guys came through. They did a solid job putting pressure on their quarterback.”
Playing their fourth road game in five contests this season, the Tigers put themselves in a deep hole in the first half.
The Seawolves took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to score and take a 7-0 lead. Junior James Kenner capped off the drive by scoring on a two-yard run. Stony Brook drove 78 yards in 13 plays to grab a lead.
On the Tigers’ second offensive play of the game, senior linebacker Jawara Dudley intercepted a pass by Athens at the Towson 17-yard line and returned it to the Tigers’ five-yard line. On the next play, junior Jameel Poteat scored on a five-yard run and the Seawolves had stunned the Tigers by taking a 14-0 lead with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
When the Tiger offense returned to the field, Athens completed four of seven passes for 49 yards on a drive that took the Tigers deep into Stony Brook territory. When the drive stalled, Drew Evangelista kicked a 33-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 14-3.
After the Tiger defense forced a three-and-out, the Tiger offense started another drive. The Tigers reached the Stony Brook 34-yard line with the help of a pass interference penalty. However, senior Reggie Francklin intercepted a pass at the Seawolves’ 20-yard line to stop that drive.
After the Tiger defense forced another punt, the Tigers took possession on their own 42-yard line. At that point, West took over the game. He carried the ball six times on a 58-yard, seven-play drive and scored his 12th touchdown of the season on a two-yard run. West had the biggest play of the drive when he ran for 36 yards on third-and-one to reach the Stony Brook 13-yard line.
West’s touchdown cut the Tigers’ deficit to 14-10 with 7:12 left in the first half.
But, Stony Brook’s offense came to life in the final minutes of the half. The Seawolves drove 78 yards in 13 plays in 6:26 to increase their lead to 21-10 with 39 seconds remaining in the half. Negron threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Eugene to give the Seawolves their halftime lead.
It marked the first time in nine games that the Tigers trailed at halftime, dating back to Oct. 20, 2012..
After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Tigers were forced to punt. However, Nick Wagner fumbled Jake Ryder’s punt at the Stony Brook 25-yard line and senior Monte Gaddis recovered, giving the Tigers new life. It took just two plays for the Tigers to score as Athens completed an 18-yard touchdown pass Wilkins. That cut the Tigers’ deficit to 21-17 with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Tigers marched deep into Stony Brook territory and had a second down at the Seawolves’ 25-yard line. Athens rolled to his left and hit Wilkins with a 25-yard touchdown pass, apparently giving the Tigers the lead. However, Leon Kinnard was penalized for offensive pass interference and the touchdown was negated. The penalty backed the Tigers up to the 40-yard line.
But, senior D. J. Soven salvaged some points off the drive when he kicked a career long 51-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-20 early in the fourth quarter.
Once again, the Tiger defense came through and forced the Seawolves to punt, giving Towson the ball at its own four-yard line.
West led the Tigers’ offense with 150 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown. It was the 15th 100-yard game of his career. Victor, the CAA Rookie of the Week last week, ran for 45 yards on five carries and scored the third touchdown of his career.
Athens, who had only thrown two interceptions in 100 attempts coming into the game, completed 10 of 21 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Wilkins caught five passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Telvion Clark led the Tiger defense with 14 tackles and a sack. Delaire also had a big game with five tackles, including three sacks and a forced fumble.
Towson had 294 yards of total offense while Stony Brook accumulated 260 total yards.
The Tigers, who also won their fifth straight CAA game, return to action on Saturday, Oct. 5 against New Hampshire at 12 noon at Johnny Unitas® Stadium.