The Tigers wrapped up their 50th season of football and have a lot to be proud of. From being picked by the media to finish 10th in the CAA to a fourth-place finish and an FCS playoff appearance this team has come much farther than expected. As the 2018 season has gone final, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and see how far the Tigers came in 2018.
A Golden Celebration for the Black and Gold, Part 2
Rising in the rankings, the number 13 Tigers headed to upstate New York to face the Great Danes of Albany. The Tigers got out to an early 10-0 lead before Albany scored on a 60-yard pass. Towson responded with two rushing touchdowns by Flacco and Thaenrat. The Great Danes scored to cut the Tiger lead to 10, however, two passing scores by Flacco gave the Tigers a comfortable lead. Just before halftime Albany hit a 50-yard pass for a score. They entered the break down 38-21.
The Tigers held Albany scoreless in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and finishing the game with a touchdown pass to Young late in the fourth. The Great Danes scored in the closing seconds of the game, but it was too little too late as Towson won convincingly 56-28. Leatherbury had another 100-yard game with seven catches for 114 yards and a score. Allen also caught seven balls for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Now a top ten ranked team, the 10th ranked Tigers headed to Newark for a rivalry game against the number 23 Delaware Blue Hens. The Tigers got out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter as the snap on a Blue Hen punt went over the punter’s head past the end zone. Leading 8-6 after a second field goal by O’Neill, Delaware scored but failed the conversion. Towson scored on an Allen touchdown and ended the half with a 50-yard field goal and an 18-6 lead.
The Hens scored early in the third quarter to take the lead but Towson scored 10 unanswered to take a 28-13 lead. Delaware fought back scoring 13 unanswered to take a 28-27 lead. The Blue Hens scored midway through the fourth to take a five point lead which the Tigers took back on a pass to Simpson. In the final seconds, Delaware scored a touchdown to take the lead and would win 36-40. Wallace became the sixth leading tackler in Tiger history in this game with 267. The Tigers offense gained over 400 yards for the eighth straight game.
Celebrating homecoming, the number 15 Tigers hosted the 23rd ranked Black Bears of Maine. The Bears scored early in the first to take an early lead, the only score of the quarter. Maine scored on the first play of the second quarter to extend their lead to 14-0. Less than one minute later Allen caught a 14-yard pass to put Towson on the board. After a 64-yard response, the Bears took a 21-7 lead into halftime. The Tigers went on an 18-6 run in the second half with two catches by Simpson for scores. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Maine would score midway through the fourth and win 35-28. No Tiger topped 100 yards rushing or receiving, and no defender had more than six tackles.
Needing a win to regain some momentum, the number 20 Ttraveledvelled to North Carolina for their final road game against Elon. Midway through the first quarter, Clark scored the first points as Towson took a 7-0 lead. The Phoenix responded with a field goal early in the second before Leatherbury caught a 16-yard pass to take an 11 point lead into halftime. Leatherbury caught his second touchdown to add to the lead. Elon would later score their first touchdown. After two field goals by O’Neill, the Tigers rushed for two touchdowns by junior running back Yeedee Thaenrat and sophomore running back Kobe Young. Upsetting a top five team on the road does not happen everyday, let alone by a 41-10 score. Even more impressive, they shut them out in the second half.
Towson took a 10-7 lead on the first play of the second quarter, but this would be their last lead of the game. The Dukes scored 31 unanswered. They only allowed seven points in the second half on a garbage time touchdown. Three JMU players rushed for over 100 yards including their quarterback. 78 yards rushing from Flacco along with 372 passing yards and two touchdowns were not enough to overcome the deficit. With the loss, Towson fell to 7-4 and relied on the FCS selection committee to reward them an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs.
After earning a playoff berth and home game, the Tigers hosted the Dukes in a torrential downpour. Towson got out to an early 10-0 lead. Duquesne then took over and held them scoreless for the remainder of the game. In one of the worst weather games I’ve seen in person, the Tigers were outplayed in all three phases. Scoring 31 unanswered, the Dukes advanced to play South Dakota State. Flacco finished with a season-low 127 yards. No one on Towson’s offense went over 100 yards rushing. Ending the season losing their last two games, it was a disappointing way to end a special season.
All They Did Was Win
The Tigers won seven games in the hardest conference in the FCS. They were the only FCS team with three top 15 wins. Two of these wins came on the road as well. 11 players were selected for the All-CAA teams and tied for the league high with five first team selections.
Tom Flacco won the CAA Offensive Player of the Week award three times and was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. Flacco was third in the FCS averaging 348 total yards a game and was top 12 with 284 passing yards per game. He ranked sixth in completions per game and 12th in completion percentage. His regular season stats finished with 3,124 passing yards and 27 touchdowns with 704 rushing yards and four scores.
Shane Simpson was named a first team All-CAA running back, second-team kick returner and third-team punt returner. He was also named the CAA Special Teams Player of the Year.
Diondre Wallace finished his collegiate career ranked seventh all time in tackles for Towson and was 11th in the conference in tackles per game. He had 81 tackles his senior season and was named a third-team selection.
I could not be prouder of this football team for fighting as hard as they did. No one gave them a chance coming into this season and they proved everyone wrong with a magical run to the playoffs. Next season they return starters Flacco, Simpson, and Leatherbury. The Tigers are set to create something special. This has been a season to remember, and covering this team all season, I could not be prouder to be a Towson Tiger.
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