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Tigers can’t overcome turnovers in loss to UNH

By: Kendrel Dickerson

Shane Simpson tied a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Shane Simpson tied a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Quarterback Ellis Knudson couldn’t keep up his level of play after his 300-yard performance against Dartmouth last week. Against New Hampshire in a conference match, he turned the ball over twice and both times they led to touchdowns. But Towson head coach Rob Ambrose pleaded that all the blame be put on him.

“Don’t write anything bad about these kids, don’t blame these kids, it’s on me, and we’ll get it fixed,” he said.

While there may be more problems than what we saw on the field, those two turnovers lost for touchdowns were game changers. They were the different in the team’s 21-7 loss to the Wildcats, and perhaps the reason they remain winless in CAA play.

While both offenses struggled, the Tigers didn’t seem to have much of an answer for UNH quarterback Trevor Knight, who averaged almost six yards a carry and finished the game with an efficient 14-for-18 performance passing. On the Wildcats second drive of the game, on the only play that the Tigers were able to get some pressure on Knight, the shifty quarterback escaped up the middle to win a 29 yard foot race to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Towson would have tied the game right away had it not been for a beautiful kickoff returned for a touchdown by the Tiger’s Shane Simpson being negated by a holding call. The Tiger’s wouldn’t be finished with that holding call, gaining a total of six penalties for 73 yards, four of them being holding calls, and three coming after large gains.

“One day we’ll learn to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Ambrose said.

The second quarter consisted of a lot of static play by both offenses, which made the defenses look semi-impressive. With 7:21 left in the second quarter, Knudson delivered a gift to the Wildcat’s secondary as Prince Smith Jr. jumped a route and took the interception 16 yards for a Wildcat touchdown.

Towson’s misery would be short lived, on the following kickoff, Simpson allows his blockers to set him up for a beautiful return right up the middle for a Towson touchdown. This one would not be called back because of a hold. The touchdown that tied a school record that stood for almost 18 years. The touchdown also gave Towson some hope as they got on the board to make it a 14-7 game.

However, the two back-to-back exciting plays would be followed with more ugly offense and defensive stops

In the third quarter Ambrose went back to the ground game, which the team has relied on so much over the years. It was less than impressive, but Towson was keeping their third downs more manageable and they were keeping possession for extended periods of time, at least until the 12:18 mark. That was when Knudson dropped back to throw and the defensive line was all over him in a matter of milliseconds. The pressure led to a fumble, which was picked up by Ryan Sosnak and returned 39 yards for the score.

The Wildcats went ahead 21-7. While that isn’t an impossible deficit to come back from, the way Towson’s offense was struggling made it a big hole, and they couldn’t get back from it.

Only 40-percent of third downs were converted in an ugly third quarter by both team’s offenses and neither teams was able to build enough of a drive to make anything happen.

In the final quarter, the Wildcats sensed they had the game in hand with the Tiger’s inability to get anything going on the offensive side. They played keep-away and ran the ball 16 times, gained over 80 yards and chewed up almost 11 minutes of the clock.

With only five minutes of possession in the fourth quarter, Towson wasn’t able to find a spark to mount a comeback and would lose for a fifth-straight week.

With the lingering statement echoing from Ambrose, “…and we’ll get it fixed”. The question is, when?

Towson is now guaranteed a losing season as they dropped to 1-6, but had four games left to end on a high note. They will next travel to Delaware to play the Blue Hens on Oct. 29 at 3:30 pm.

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Kendrel Dickerson

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