High-powered rushing offense propels Towson past Villanova in 27-3 win
By: Courtney Ott, Karl Lindsey and Da’Rell Johnson
The Towson Football team defeated Villanova 27-3 after strong offensive gameplay and special teams returns.
“We had an opportunity to beat them and not only did we beat them, we beat them handily… today was our day,” said Head Coach Rob Ambrose.
Towson dominated on offense, recording 392 total yards while their opponent recorded 153 total yards. The Tigers generated 267 rushing yards compared to 85 rushing yards from Villanova.
Villanova won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Running back D’Ago Hunter received the opening kickoff and returned it for 60 yards, but Towson failed to generate any offensive plays resulting in a missed 52-yard field goal attempt that fell short.
The Wildcats capitalized on the Towson miss with a 59-yard drive on 17 plays that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Matthew Mercurio to give the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead.
After a short kick was returned to the Towson 36-yard line, quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome’s first pass of the new drive was intercepted by defensive back Kshawn Schulters. The interception lead to nothing for the Wildcat’s offense as the Tigers forced a three-and-out.
Villanova ended the first quarter with a 3-0 lead. Towson quickly answered on the first play of the second quarter as Pigrome found wide receiver Isaiah Perkins in the endzone for a 26-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead. Towson drove 92 yards on 11 plays, highlighted by a 33-yard rush by running back Joachim Bangda.
After Towson started the drive deep in their own territory, the team drove 61 yards on 12 plays that ended with Keegan Vaughan missing a 47-yard field goal that went wide to the right, keeping the lead 7-3 with 5:34 left in the half.
Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions. On Villanova’s next drive, defensive back Robert Topps III intercepted the first pass at the Towson 47 and was returned 39-yards to the Villanova 14 to put the offense up in short field position late in the second. The Tigers took advantage, kicking a 22-yard field goal to end the half with a 10-3 lead.
Villanova punted on the first possession of the second half. At Towson’s 32 yard line, Pigrome found wide receiver Da’Kendall James with a 20-yard pass resulting in a first down. After a Pigrome sack and a loss of eight yards, the Tigers were able to complete a first down at the 48. Towson was forced to kick a field goal after Villanova’s strong stance on defense. A 42-yard field goal put Towson up 13-3 with 8:56 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Towson defense forced another Wildcat punt after a sack by defensive lineman Oly Okombi.
Pigrome responded with a play of his own, rushing for 28 yards. The Towson drive stalled after James fumbled and Villanova recovered on their own 26 with 3:51 left in the third.
Towson’s defense held off the Wildcats after totaling 20 yards in four plays.
“We have to play hard cleats in the ground,” said Topps III. “Throughout the whole week we focused on lining up, being sound, studying film all week so that’s really what put us in the position to make those plays and limit those big plays.”
Starting the 4th quarter, Towson was forced to punt after struggling to generate any offensive plays, and Villanova followed with a punt.
Pigrome found Perkins in the endzone for the second time with a 10-yard pass as the Tigers extended their lead to 20-3 with 11:22 left in the game.
After forcing another Wildcats punt, Hunter took the ensuing punt 77-yards for a Tiger touchdown that extended the Tigers’ lead 27-3 with 9:23 left in the game.
“I do not know how [Hunter is] not the number one returner in this league period,” said Ambrose. “If the leagues not gonna show it, we’ll just let the country do it because he’s gonna end up being an All-American.”
Towson kept and maintained their lead throughout the rest of the game, and won 27-3. Hunter totaled 150 return yards, with one kickoff return for 60 yards and two punt returns totaling 90 yards including a touchdown.
Towson travels to Stony Brook University to take on the Seawolves on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.