Like a lot of teams that have faced No. 7 seed Towson this year, Fordham figured that the best place to hold down the high-scoring Tigers offense would be at the line of scrimmage.
That was probably the right approach, but it didn’t matter.
While the Rams focused on the run, Towson quarterback Peter Athens picked the secondary apart with a terrific performance in a 48-28 win, completing 13 of 15 passes for 301 yards and a career-high three touchdowns as the Tigers scored touchdowns on seven of their first eight possessions.
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It was close for a half, but it really wasn’t. Fordham took advantage of a handful of special teams miscues to rally from an early 21-7 deficit, but Towson dominated the second half to win by 20 and record the school’s first-ever NCAA Division I Football Championship victory.
“Week in and week out, we play a defense that stacks the box,’’ said Athens, who was working with a depleted wide receiver corps, “and we set a game plan around that, and the coaching staff really put in a game plan that helped us out with that.”
Athens completed passes to eight different receivers and connected with Andre Dessenberg, James Oboh and Darius Victor for touchdowns. Five receivers caught passes of 20 yards or more, and Athens averaged just over 20 yards per pass.
Of course, the Tigers also ran the ball effectively, though their 189 net yards were well below their season average of 235. But two of the Tigers’ first-half touchdowns came on long completions by Athens.
“I thought we started very well in the first quarter,’’ Athens said. “The second quarter was a little not what we wanted. I thought we started great, and I thought it was a big part of our success the whole game.”