Towson has faced some of the top offenses in the Football Championship Subdivision and slowed high-powered opponents like Delaware, New Hampshire and Richmond en route to victories. But Saturday's second-round game of the NCAA tournament at Johnny Unitas Stadium may bring a different challenge.
Fordham (12-1) ranks first in the FBS in completion percentage (70.4) and fourth in average yards (358.3). The aerial attack has helped the Rams rank 12th in scoring, averaging 38.3 points per game.
Junior quarterback Michael Nebrich leads the country in completion percentage (73.5) and is fourth in passing yards per game (332.2). Junior wide receiver Sam Ajala tops the FCS in receiving yards (1,526), and junior Tebucky Jones is tied for 11th in receptions (80) and 12th in receiving yards (1,139).
So how do the No. 7 seed Tigers (10-2) intend to contain Fordham’s passing offense?
“You got a lucky rabbit’s foot?” Towson coach Rob Ambrose asked with tongue firmly planted in cheek. “Michael Nebrich is a great quarterback, they’ve got a great offensive system, and they have really talented wideouts and a great offensive line to protect him. We’ve been playing good defense, they’ve been playing good offense. Let’s see how it shakes out on Saturday.”
The Rams have been held to under 300 passing yards in three games this season, but they still managed to win each time. Their only loss was a 27-14 setback to Lafayette on Nov. 16 in which Nebrich sat out with a knee injury and junior Peter Maetzold completed 22-of-39 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed four interceptions.
Nebrich, who threw for 413 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday’s 37-27 victory over Sacred Heart, will tangle with a Tigers defense that has not allowed more than 170 passing yards in each of its past two games. Towson has posted four sacks in those two games, but senior defensive tackle Arnold Farmer said a consistent pass rush can be enough to disrupt a passer’s rhythm.
“It all starts up front,” the Poly graduate said. “Every week, it’s getting after the quarterback and giving our defensive backs just enough time to cover. So if we get that pass rush on their quarterback, we’ll be fine.”