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Courtesy: CAA/Mark Campbell

Towson's Historic Season Comes to End in FCS Title Game

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 01/04/2014
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FRISCO, Texas (Jan. 4, 2014)  Towson University’s magical run to the NCAA FCS championship came up one victory short as two-time defending champion North Dakota State University (15-0) won its 24th consecutive game and its third consecutive title, handing the Tigers a 35-7 setback in the NCAA FCS Championship Game at Toyota Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Bison, who were the top-ranked team in the nation all season, used big plays on special teams and defense to seize control of the contest in the second quarter.

“When you play a team like North Dakota State, your margin for error is very small,” said Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. “They are a perfect team and they played a perfect game. We didn’t.”

With the game tied at 7-7 in the second quarter, the Tigers reached the Bison 27-yard line. However, freshmanDarius Victor was thrown for a three-yard loss when he slipped and fell on the loose turf. Two plays later, the game turned dramatically. Senior D.J. Soven tried a 41-yard field goal. It was blocked by Colten Heagle and defensive end Kyle Emmanuel picked the ball up at the Bison 36-yard and returned it 59 yards to the Towson five-yard line. On the next play, senior Ryan Smith scored from five yards out to give the Bison a 14-7 lead with 4:48 left in the first half.

On their next drive, the Tigers reached the Bison 45-yard line. A long pass by Peter Athens, intended for Brian Dowling, was intercepted by sophomore C.J. Smith at the NDSU 25-yard line. He returned it 32 yards to the Towson 43-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Brock Jensen threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior Zach Vraa as the Bison extended their lead to 21-7.

Although the Tigers had more first downs (9-7), more rushing yards (80-72), more passing yards (90-62) and more time of possession (18:53 -11:07), they trailed by two touchdowns.

North Dakota State took control of the game in the third quarter. The Bison defense held Towson to 48 yards of offense and two first downs in the period. Meanwhile, the Bison had 175 yards of offense and extended their lead to 28-7. On their first possession of the second half, the Bison started at their own 12-yard line after a 43-yard punt by freshman Jake Ryder.

Jensen, who was named as the Most Outstanding Performer in the championship game, directed an impressive eight-play, 88-yard drive. On the drive, he completed three passes for 45 yards to lead the Bison inside the Towson 10-yard line. On second-and-goal, he scored on a nine-yard run to give the Bison a 28-7 lead.

Later in the third quarter, the Bison reached the Towson one-yard line where they faced fourth-and-goal. But, Sam Ojuri was stopped short of the end zone by Max Tejada and Christian Carpenter and the Tigers hoped the momentum had shifted.

However, the Bison defense forced a short Tiger punt which gave them great field position at the Towson 31-yard line. Seven plays later, Ojuri scored from one yard out and North Dakota State had a 35-7 lead.

With 13:09 remaining, Athens went to a no-huddle offense. He drove the Tigers deep into NDSU territory. Facing fourth-and-two at the Bison 14-yard line, Athens threw an incomplete pass to Connor Frazier, ending the drive.

After getting a first down, the Bison reached their own 31-yard line where they were forced to punt. When Ben LeCompte boomed a 66-yarder to the Towson three-yard line, the Tigers were backed up with 4:26 left in the game.

Converting a pair of fourth downs, Athens moved the Tigers into NDSU territory and reached the 20-yard line before the clock ran out.

North Dakota State, which never trailed in the contest, took the early lead on its second possession. A 33-yard run by John Crockett enabled the Bison to reach the red zone. On the fifth play of the drive, Crockett scored on a two-yard run to give the Bison a 7-0 lead with 5:34 left in the half.

The Tigers responded with a scoring drive of their own as they tied the score. A 37-yard pass from Athens toBrian Dowling set up the Tigers’ first touchdown of the game. On the final play of the first quarter, West scored on a three-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. It was his 42nd touchdown of the season. It was also his 86th career touchdown.

West, who ran for 99 yards on 22 carries, led the Tiger offense with 138 all-purpose yards. He finished the season with an NCAA FCS record 2,509 yards on 413 carries. He also set NCAA FCS records with 41 rushing touchdowns and 42 touchdowns scored.

Playing in his final game, Athens completed 28 of 44 passes for 267 yards with one interception. It was the only interception he threw in Towson’s four post-season games.

Connor Frazier led the Tiger receivers with seven catches for 54 yards while freshman Andre Dessenberg had six receptions for 49 yards.

Facing the top-rated defense in NCAA FCS, the Tigers had 373 yards of total offense.

Jensen completed 13 of 18 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 20 yards on three carries and scored a touchdown.

Crockett led the Bison ground game as they ran for 210 yards on 30 attempts. Crockett had 86 rushing yards on nine carries. Ojuri picked up 84 yards on 15 carries.

“I am so proud of this team,” said Ambrose. “We made history by reaching the national championship game.”

The Tigers were trying to become the fifth CAA Football team since 2003 to take home the FCS national title.