Tigers bounce back and take down no. 5 Elon
By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
Photo by Alexis Brown/ The Towerlight
The No. 20 ranked Tigers rebounded from back to back losses with a 41-10 upset win over No. 5 Elon Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.
This marks the most lopsided Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) win for the Tigers (7-3, 5-2 CAA) this season, giving them their third victory against a top 25 opponent.
“I’m very proud of this team,” said Head Coach Rob Ambrose. “They had to suffer through weeks of many people telling them that they weren’t any good because they lost to two nationally ranked football teams by one score each. The way they rallied as a family, playing six seconds of football as hard as they could, it is impossible of me to be more proud of them.”
Elon (6-3, 4-2 CAA) lost its starting quarterback last week, but its reserves stepped up in his absence.
“They lost some really talented players, but adjusted their offense and are still effective,” Ambrose said. “They are running the ball extremely well.”
After some early offensive struggles by both teams, the Tigers put together their first positive drive midway through the first quarter. Redshirt junior quarterback Tom Flacco completed an 18-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Jabari Allen and two passes for 32 yards to redshirt junior wide receiver Brent Richardson to put Towson in scoring position.
Flacco capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Chris Clark to give Towson an early 7-0 lead. The Tigers refused to relinquish their lead for the rest of the game.
The Phoenix notched a 21-yard field goal early in the second quarter, and junior defensive back Greg Liggs Jr. picked off a Flacco pass on the ensuing drive to regain possession for Elon.
“He’s understanding the offense versus defense so much more that he’s taking step three before step one and puts us in bad situations,” Ambrose said.
Elon failed to capitalize on the turnover. The Tigers marched down the field on their next drive with two passes to Allen for 50 yards, setting up a 16-yard touchdown to redshirt junior wide receiver Shane Leatherbury. Towson held the Phoenix scoreless for the remainder of the half and took a 14-3 lead into intermission.
The Tigers ran the ball heavily to open the second half as redshirt junior running back Shane Simpson toted three consecutive carries. Flacco scrambled for 21 yards to put Towson in Elon’s territory.
Liggs recorded his second interception of the game to halt the drive, but a roughing the passer penalty resulted in the visitors maintaining possession. Flacco took advantage of the penalty, connecting with Leatherbury for a nine-yard score to put his team ahead 21-3.
The Phoenix finally found the end zone late in the third quarter as sophomore quarterback Jalen Greene rushed for a 17-yard touchdown to cut Towson’s lead to 21-10.
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Grant Udinski recorded a strip sack, and redshirt junior linebacker Keon Paye recovered the ball to set up junior kicker Aidan O’Neill for a 45-yard field goal.
The Tigers leaned on sophomore running back Kobe Young and junior running back Yeedee Thaenrat midway through the fourth quarter as they rushed a combined seven times over that period. Thaenrat found the end zone on a three-yard scamper to give Towson a 34-10 lead.
Senior linebacker Chris Tedder recovered the ball on the ensuing kickoff, and Young scored on the next play to seal the upset for the Tigers.
The Tigers look to keep up their strong play as the team hosts James Madison on senior day at Johnny Unitas Stadium Saturday afternoon. Kickoff against James Madison is scheduled for 2 p.m.