ORONO, Maine—The Towson football team has made the race for the Colonial Athletic Association championship even more competitive.
With Saturday's 40-30 win at Maine, Towson not only propelled itself into a three-way tie for first place with the Black Bears and New Hampshire, but also provided itself a springboard into the final two games of its CAA schedule.
"Today, we celebrate the win, and nothing else," said Towson linebacker Danzel White, who had 12 tackles (two solo, 10 assisted) and a sack. "Then, our focus is on New Hampshire [at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium]. The mentality this week was: beat Maine and do everything to do it. We had to play our best game to beat these guys."
No. 14 Towson (7-2, 5-1 CAA) ended Maine's six-game winning streak and, paced by tailback Terrance West's three touchdowns and 183 yards on 21 carries, had its best rushing output of the season — 334 yards on 53 carries.
"We knew what their offensive line would bring to the table," Maine nose tackle Raibonne Charles said. "We just got beat. They're a good team, but at the same time, we didn't step up and get it done today when we needed to. If you don't win on first and second downs, you're behind schedule.
"We went in with a game plan. But they executed theirs."
Against the Black Bears (7-2, 5-1), the Tigers successfully defended against a running game that was without tailback Pushaun Brown (147 carries for 723 yards in eight games), who was held out because of a thigh injury. The Tigers held the Black Bears to 85 yards on 31 carries, all from redshirt freshman running back David Hood.
With the game tied at 7, Hood's fumble late in the first quarter at Maine's 10-yard line helped set up Towson's go-ahead touchdown, a 2-yard run by West 45 seconds into the second. Tremayne Dameron gave Towson a 20-7 lead on a 19-yard touchdown run with 6:27 left in the half. The Black Bears blocked D.J. Soven's point-after attempt, and Trevor Coston's two-point return cut Towson's lead to 20-9.
Maine cut Towson's lead to 20-16 with 5:09 left in the third quarter when Hood ended a 12-play, 57-yard drive with a leaping 1-yard touchdown run, followed by the second of Brian Harvey's four point-after kicks.
But two minutes later, Towson quarterback Grant Enders (6-for-13 for 84 yards with an interception) found Dameron open across the field, threading a 33-yard touchdown pass to the junior tailback to give Towson a 26-16 lead with 7:23 left in the third.
"That's been in the vault for awhile, for a couple weeks," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "You need the right time to run it. The way they defended our run game, we knew it would be something conducive to success."
With less than 30 seconds left in the third quarter, Towson linebacker Kenton Powell intercepted Warren Smith (26-for-41 for 256 yards with two interceptions) at the Tigers' 45-yard line and returned it to Maine's 26. Four plays later, Enders scooted in for a 1-yard touchdown, and Soven's third point-after kick gave the Tigers a 33-16 lead 1:32 into the fourth.
Still, the Black Bears remained opportunistic, scoring two of the final three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But they could not recover an onside kick with 3:01 left, allowing Towson to run out the clock.
"Their team is so good, and they believe in themselves so strongly," Ambrose said of Maine. "They've come back from incredible deficits multiple times. If they thought there were another two quarters in this game, they would have played them."