TOWSON, Md. – Senior quarterback Grant Enders piled up 358 yards of total offense and scored on a 52-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining in the game as the No. 17 Tigers (3-3, 2-1) handed the University of Maine (2-4, 1-2) a 24-19 loss in a Colonial Athletic Association game at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday night.
Enders completed 17 of 26 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in addition to running for 98 yards on eight carries as the Tigers pulled out the win. The victory was Towson’s ninth win in its last 11 CAA games.
With the Tigers clinging to a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Enders directed an 86-yard, seven-play drive that upped the Towson lead to 24-13 with 3:04 remaining. Enders’ 52-yard touchdown run capped off the drive. The drive did receive a timely penalty. When R.J. Peppers came in to punt midway through the drive, Maine was penalized for roughing the kicker and Towson had a first down at its own 36-yard line. Four plays later, Enders ran off right tackle and scored his second touchdown of the game.
“Maine’s defense is very aggressive,” said Enders. “When Coach (Rob) Ambrose made that call, it was a great time for it. (Dominique) Booker made a great block and I broke into the clear and saw nothing but green in front of me.”
Enders’ touchdown run gave Towson a 24-13 lead but the Black Bears came right back with a touchdown drive of their own. Junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski guided a 74-yard, 13-play drive and he scored on a nine-yard run to cut the deficit to 24-19 with 38 seconds left. The Black Bears elected to try for the two-point conversion but Wasilewski’s pass into the end zone was incomplete.
When Sean Decloux tried an onsides kick, senior wide receiver Tom Ryan recovered the kick and the Tigers held on to win.
“Nobody has ever played a perfect game,” said Coach Ambrose. “Every game presents adversity and the team that does the best job responding to the adversity is the team with the most character.”
Despite controlling the clock for 34:47 and rolling up 507 yards, the Tigers struggled to get on the scoreboard. Three possessions ended with missed field goals and one ended with a “red zone” interception that was thrown by Enders. In addition, the Tigers were penalized nine times for 81 yards.
“I felt like our defense was on the field for the entire game,” said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove. “Our offense didn’t execute and that’s where we lost it. I have a lot of respect for their quarterback (Enders). He knows how to run a game and he has made tremendous progress.”
The Tigers missed a chance to take an early lead when junior D.J. Soven missed a 47-yard field goal attempt after a Maine turnover gave them the ball at the Maine 34-yard line.
On their second possession, the Tigers took a 7-0 lead when they marched 77 yards in 10 plays. Senior wide receiver Alex Blake started the drive when he ran for 25 yards on a reverse. Sophomore Terrance West capped off the drive by scoring his eighth touchdown of the season on a one-yard.
Maine got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter when freshman kicker Decloux booted a 33-yard field, cutting the deficit to 7-3.
Early in the second quarter, the Tigers moved to the Maine 13-yard line and appeared ready to increase their lead. However, junior linebacker Troy Eastman intercepted a pass and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown, giving Maine a 10-7 advantage with 14:05 left in the half.
Towson came right back with a drive that ended at the Maine 19-yard line. But, Soven missed a 37-yard field goal, keeping the score at 10-7.
The Tigers regained the lead at 14-10 with 1:22 remaining when Enders capped off an 80-yard drive by firing an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior Erron Banks.
On the final play of the first half, Soven had one more chance to kick a field goal. But, his 40-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright and Towson went to halftime with a 14-10 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, the Tigers drove to the Maine 20-yard line where the drive stalled. Presented with a fourth opportunity, Soven nailed a 38-yard field goal to give Towson a 17-10 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Black Bears put together their best drive of the game. They marched 81 yards in 21 plays and reached the Towson two-yard line. However, sophomore running back David Hood fumbled at the two-yard line and junior linebacker Telvion Clark recovered to end the drive.
After the Tigers were forced to punt, Decloux’s 28-yard field goal cut Maine’s deficit to 17-13 and set the stage for Enders’ touchdown run.
Enders and West led the Tigers’ running game. While Enders picked up 98 yards on eight carries, West ran for 96 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Towson accumulated 247 rushing yards in the win.
Ryan was the Tigers’ top receiver with four catches for 85 yards. He became the 20th player in Towson history with 100 career receptions.
Junior linebacker Monte Gaddis led the Tigers with ten tackles.
Wasilewski led Maine by completing 24 of 37 passes for 159 yards. He also ran for 60 yards and scored a touchdown.
The Tigers return to action next Saturday night when they host Old Dominion University in a 7:00 game.