By: Jordan Cope, Sports Editor
With under 3 minutes left in the Tiger’s first home game of the season, redshirt sophomore quarterback Ellis Knudson, who took over for an injured Morgan Mahalak, stepped back in the pocket and hit senior wide receiver Christian Summers for a 43-yard touchdown pass which proved to be the difference in Towson’s 35-28 Saturday win over Saint Francis.
“Just preparing during the week gets me ready to go in the game,” Knudson said. “I prepare during the week like the starter and try to perfect the offense the best I can. I just went in there like I was the starter.”
On the first snap of the game, the Tigers (1-1, 0-0 CAA) recovered a Red Flash (0-2, 0-0 NEC) fumble and set up shop on the Red Flash 11 yard line.
However, on the the Tigers first play on offense, senior running back Darius Victor fumbled the ball into the hands of senior defensive back Lorenzo Jerome who returned the ball 89 yards for a touchdown to give the Red Flash a 7-0 lead.
On Towson’s next push, the team drove 64 yards down the field to put freshman kicker Aidan O’Neil in field goal range. O’Neil converted on the 28-yard field goal attempt and drew the team within four points of Saint Francis.
In the second quarter, the Red Flash extended their lead 14-3 when senior quarterback Zack Drayer hit sophomore wide receiver Kamron Lewis for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers responded on their next drive as Knudson drove the offense down the field and capped off the drive with a 20-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Red Flash lead to 14-10.
Following Knudson’s touchdown run, Drayer responded with a 7-yard rushing touchdown and a 13-yard passing touchdown to give the Red Flash a 28-10.
A 54-yard pass from Knudson to Summers put O’Neil in range to make his second field goal of the evening and bring the score to 28-13 going into halftime.
Towson opened up the third quarter with the ball and put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive capped off by Victor’s 37th career rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion to make it a one-score game.
After a defensive hold by the Tigers, Knudson completed a screen pass to Summers for a 94-yard gain and a touchdown to tie the game 28-28. It was the second longest pass in Towson football history.
“I don’t think it’s just me,” Summers said. “I think it’s Ellis, Bryton with the defense. They made stops when we needed them we needed them and we just showed up. During practice this week it was just a different feeling. We had a great week of practice and it showed.”
In the fourth quarter, Saint Francis looked poised to take a three-point lead after driving into field goal range, but redshirt junior defensive end D’Sean Cummings blocked the attempt.
Following the blocked kick the Tigers took over at their own 31, but their drive stalled and senior Jake Ryder had to come into punt.
After a Saint Francis three-and-out, Towson took over at its own 43-yard line, where Knudson found Summers for the game-winning touchdown.
“I’m sure everyone that was here enjoyed that immensely” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “I’m proud of our guys, not for how we started, but for how we finished.”
Ambrose said he was also happy to see the large student turn-out at the game.
“I met with some students this week,” he said. “We talked about student involvement at football games and the difference that it can make. They were amazing. I would not have wanted to be the visiting team that had to sit in front of them.”
Next week, Towson will hit the road for its first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matchup of the year against Villanova. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.