Against Fordham, senior Peter Athens enjoyed the kind of outing of which quarterbacks dream.
Athens set career highs in completion percentage and touchdowns in No. 7 seed Towson’s 48-28 victory on Saturday in a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament second-round game at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
His 86.7 percent completion rate (13 of 15) topped the 76.2 percent (16 of 21) he completed in a 48-32 victory over Richmond on Oct. 26. And his three-touchdown showing eclipsed his previous best of two scores set three times earlier in the season.
Athens, along with the dual rushing threat of junior Terrance West and freshman Darius Victor and a defense that allowed just seven points in the second half, deserves a good portion of the credit for propelling the Tigers (11-2) to the most single-season wins in school history and a quarterfinal game against No. 2 seed Eastern Illinois (12-1) on Friday night.
What made Athens’ performance surprising is that he had completed just 58.2 percent of his throws in his previous three games combined and had just as many interceptions (two) as touchdowns.
But Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said Saturday’s effort is what he anticipates from Athens.
“I’d say this is the kind of quarterback play I’ve expected from Pete since he’s been here,” Ambrose said Monday. “The 13 of 15, while that’s extremely efficient, the reason we didn’t throw it anymore was basically we didn’t have the ball for the second quarter. So that kind of limited our opportunity. But he played the game as he should play it.
"He prepared amazingly well. He was a great leader. He ran that offense to perfection, and for  plays and almost 500 yards, that’s a good day for any quarterback. I keep asking him, ‘How does it feel to be the only quarterback in the history of this school to win 11 games in one year?’ He just keeps looking at me and says, ‘Coach, it’s special, but not done yet.' ”
Rams coach Joe Moorhead acknowledged that the defense’s focus was on containing West and Victor, which opened the door for Athens to succeed.
“They do a tremendous job running the football, but I think what you saw today, what makes them particularly dangerous is their ability to throw the ball as well,” he said after Saturday’s outcome. “They completed 13-of-15 for over 300 yards. We talked about that all week.
"We certainly had to stop the run because that’s the most dangerous aspect of their offense, but there’s enough skill and Athens does a good enough job that you can’t just concentrate on stopping that running game because they can beat you with the pass, too.”