CHARLESTON, Ill. - Coming off second round victories, the Tigers (11-2) and Eastern Illinois (12-1) will play under the lights at O'Brien Field on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA FCS playoffs. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with an 8:00 p.m. (EST) kickoff
The Panthers are the number two seed in the FCS playoffs and have won nine games in a row. The Ohio Valley Conference champions advanced with a 51-10 win over Tennessee State on Saturday.
The Tigers seeded seventh in the FCS playoffs and reached the quarter-finals with a 48-28 win over Fordham on Saturday.
For the second week in a row, the Tiger defense will face one of the top offensive teams in the nation. Led by senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Panthers are averaging 48.9 points and 595.5 yards of total offense per game. Both marks lead the nation.
Garoppolo has completed 337 of 518 passes for 4,729 yards and an eye-opening 51 touchdowns. He has only thrown nine interceptions.
The game will be a matchup of two of the three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as Garoppolo and the Tigers' Terrance West are top contenders for the award.
West has rushed for 1,951 yards in 13 games and has scored 34 touchdowns, the top mark in the nation. He is the second-leading rusher in NCAA FCS behind Zach Zenner of South Dakota State. Zenner finished his season with 2,015 rushing yards.
Towson exploded for 48 points against Fordham on Saturday. The Tigers are ranked 13th in NCAA FCS while averaging 38.0 points per game.
The winner of the Towson-Eastern Illinois game will advance to the NCAA FCS semi-finals to face the winner of the game between No. 3 Eastern Washington (11-2) and Jacksonville State (11-3).