By: Jordan Kendall, Contributing Writer
File photo by Joe Noyes/ The Towerlight
Towson suffered a tough 51-20 loss against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest Saturday afternoon at BB&T Field.
Head Coach Rob Ambrose knew that this would be a difficult matchup going into the game.
“They are a very well coached team and very talented,” Ambrose said.
He emphasized big plays and no turnovers, which both were seen in the first quarter. Wake Forest took the first offensive possession and used a fast paced tempo to wear out the Tigers. Freshman quarterback Sam Hartman capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown throw, highlighted by an impressive one-handed catch from senior wide receiver Alex Bachman.
Hartman built on his experience from last week’s overtime win against Tulane as he was just one of four freshman quarterbacks to start week one.
With Towson looking to respond, redshirt junior running back Shane Simpson gave his team good field position with a 31 yard kickoff return. The Tigers capitalized on the solid return as wide receiver Sam Gallahan hauled in a one handed touchdown grab of his own from 24 yards.
Redshirt junior quarterback Tom Flacco started the game hot, completing all four of his passing attempts for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Greg Dortch had a huge game for Wake Forest, responding to Towson’s first score with a 30-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. After some Towson penalties helped the Demon Deacons get downfield, Dortch found the endzone on a one handed touchdown grab to give his team a 14-7 lead.
Towson failed to score on its next drive, but redshirt senior punter Pat Toomey pinned Wake Forest deep in its own territory to set up a momentum changing play.
Sophomore defensive back Mantriel Reaves intercepted the ball off a deflected pass to put the Tigers in the red zone. Simpson reeled in a short touchdown pass to knot up the score, but early in the second quarter Hartman scrambled for a 14-yard touchdown to regain the lead.
Flacco threw one of his two interceptions on the day on the ensuing drive, but the Tigers made a big stop on third down to force a field goal. Flacco seemed to have lost his confidence after the first interception and Dortch looked to take advantage as he returned a punt 70 yards for a just under four minutes into the second, one of two for him in the game.
Flacco completed a few passes on the next drive, but two false start penalties and the third sack on Flacco forced a fourth down in field goal range. Ambrose went for it on fourth down multiple times in the Morgan State game and decided to stay aggressive again, but Flacco was hit as he threw and the Tigers gave up possession on turnover on downs.
The Tigers made another stop on defense, but Dortch returned his second punt to the house from 60 yards.
Flacco responded with accurate throws and led his offense into the endzone with an 18-yard throw to redshirt junior wide receiver Shane Leatherbury. Towson failed on its two point conversion, taking a 38-20 deficit into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Flacco completed a few passes but could not get past midfield. Wake Forest took advantage, driving to the goal line until senior linebacker Diondre Wallace stripped the ball from Hartman and redshirt junior linebacker Ricky DeBerry recovered.
Flacco was shaken up after a play, so redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Stover came in and got the ball past midfield on a quarterback keeper. Facing another fourth down, Towson went for it at the 43 yard line, but failed. Wake Forest reached the red zone, but redshirt junior linebacker Keon Paye pressured Hartman and forced a field goal.
Late in the third quarter the game was delayed due to lightning, but the Demon Deacons took home the victory once play resumed.
Ambrose did not see what he emphasized for Flacco this week.
“He needs to do a better job of getting rid of the ball when he’s in trouble,” Ambrose said.
The Tigers look to use this loss as a learning experience as they open conference play by heading to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon to take on Villanova. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.