While much of the attention after No. 7 seed Towson’s 35-31 decision against No. 3 Eastern Washington in Saturday’s NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament semifinal centered on the right shoulder injury that senior quarterback Peter Athens suffered and the play of sophomore Connor Frazier who replaced Athens, a spot on the offensive line was also in flux.
Senior Charles Johnson made his second start of the season at right guard. The Baltimore native and Poly graduate replaced freshman Sam Evans, a Fallston native and Loyola graduate who had made 11 starts at that position but has come off the bench in a reserve role in the Tigers’ last two contests.
“We’ve been rolling three guards at the right guard position,” coach Rob Ambrose said Monday, referring to Evans, Johnson and sophomore Jake Schunke. “Based on the previous week of practice, [offensive line] coach [John] Donatelli decided to start the senior.”
Johnson was part of an offensive front that paved the way for junior running back Terrance West to set a FCS record for rushing yards in a season (2,410) and total touchdowns (41). But he also was flagged once for a false start on an extra-point attempt in the first quarter.
Asked to assess Johnson’s play, Ambrose said, “OK. He played OK. At times, he played very well. At times, he didn’t. You could say that about the entire offensive line.”
Could Evans reclaim his starting role in time for the FCS title game when Towson (13-2) clashes with No. 1 seed North Dakota State (14-0) on Jan. 4 at 2 p.m. at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Tex.? Ambrose was non-committal.
“Of the five spots up front, that is the one that is in complete, fluid evaluation,” he said. “Whoever practices the best will be the starter.”