By: Karuga Koinange, Sports Editor
File photo by Joe Noyes/ The Towerlight
Towson suffered a heartbreaking 33-30 loss in double overtime against Elon Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.
The Phoenix (8-1, 6-0 CAA) owned the first three quarters of play, but the Tigers (3-6, 1-5 CAA) put forth a respectable comeback attempt late in the game.
Towson’s offense got off to a solid start with a 25-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Aidan O’Neill on the unit’s first drive.
On the team’s next drive, redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Stover completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior tight end Joe Green to take an early 10-0 lead.
“You can see them growing in the span of a year,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “Now that they’re over the jitters, you see them getting better every week.”
Elon took control of the game after that score, as its defense started making stops and its offense began to put up points.
The Phoenix smothered Stover for the rest of the first half and fed their sophomore running back De’Sean McNair the ball on offense. McNair burst loose for a 30-yard gain on the Phoenix’s second drive of the game to put his team near the goal line. He capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Redshirt freshman running back Brelynd Cyphers showed his big-play ability with a 39-yard run on Elon’s next drive to put his team inside Towson territory. Freshman quarterback Davis Cheek finished the drive with an eight-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wide receiver Tre Marsh, putting Elon up 14-10 going into halftime.
Elon did not slow down in the third quarter as Cheek opened the second half with a 39-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Kortez Weeks. Cyphers capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put the home team up 21-10.
Towson couldn’t muster a first down in the entire third quarter and Elon freshman kicker Owen Johnson tacked on a 32-yard field goal to give his team a 24-10 lead going into the final quarter.
Johnson added another short field goal early in the fourth to increase Elon’s lead to 17.
Trailing 27-10, the Tigers started to get things going offensively. On their first drive in the fourth, the visitors had a good blend of run and pass plays as they marched downfield. They finished the drive with a trick play as freshman wide receiver Jabari Allen threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Stover.
Towson’s defense forced a three-and-out on the next defensive possession, and Stover began connecting on big plays on the other side of the ball. He found redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shane Leatherbury down the sideline for a 39-yard catch-and-run touchdown to put the Tigers within three.
O’Neill nailed a 27-yard field goal late in the fourth to put the game into overtime, but Ambrose believed Towson shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with.
“We got to learn how to close the gap and be consistent,” Ambrose said. “If we would’ve been a little bit more consistent tackling, if we would’ve been a little bit more consistent not stepping on our own foot on offense earlier in the game, this isn’t an overtime game.”
Both teams had to settle for short field goals in the first overtime and Towson got the ball to begin double overtime. Elon made the biggest play of extra time as they blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by O’Neill to create a sudden death situation.
Needing only a field goal, Elon handed the ball to McNair six times to put the team in scoring position. Johnson drilled a 26-yard field goal to win the game.
The Tigers play their final road game of the season Saturday, Nov. 11 as the team faces William & Mary at Zable Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.