Early in the third quarter against the nation's top-ranked Football Championship Subdivision team, Towson quarterback Tommy Chroniger found a hole in the right side of the line and ran 12 yards for a touchdown that gave the Tigers their first lead.
The run had the injury-riddled Tigers believing they could pull off a most improbable upset against Richmond. That optimism, however, was short-lived as the Spiders answered with 22 points in a span of 2 minutes, 33 seconds and pulled away for a 42-14 victory before an announced 4,396 at Johnny Unitas Stadium. The Tigers executed an effective defensive plan early by swarming to the ball and minimizing big plays before falling apart in the second half.
"For 2 1/2 quarters, I'd say we were doing what everyone else in the country thought was completely and utterly impossible," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "Again, we made some slight errors that become monstrous errors when you play the best of the best."
The Spiders (8-0 overall, 6-0 Colonial Athletic Association), the defending national champions, extended their winning streak to a school-record 17 games.
Towson (2-6, 1-4) was missing 15 players because of injuries, including starting freshman quarterback Peter Athens. Chroniger took the majority of snaps, completing six of 13 passes for 39 yards with an interception. He also threw for a touchdown and ran for another.
Richmond was led by running backs Justin Forte, who had 121 yards on 22 carries, and Kendall Gaskins, who scored three times inside the red zone.
Towson started strong and held an opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season. The momentum ended when Richmond scored on the first possession of the second quarter on Eric Ward's 10-yard pass to William Bischoff.
The Tigers responded on their ensuing possession when Chroniger threw a 19-yard pass to an open John Godlasky. Richmond led 13-7 at the half after Gaskins scored from the 1.
"Obviously, it feels really, really good to come out with a win on the road against a very scrappy Towson team," Richmond coach Mike London said.
A bad snap on a Richmond punt gave Towson the ball on the Spiders' 34 at the beginning of the third quarter. A roughing-the-passer penalty on a fourth-and-4 moved the ball to the 28, and Chroniger later took advantage with a 12-yard run to give Towson its first lead, 14-13, with 10:54 remaining.
"As a human being, when you have nothing to lose, there's a whole lot of power in that," Ambrose said. "Did they believe more when Tommy scored? Sure. It was more of a validating point. When you're backed into the corner and you come out and punch the guy in the face who backed you in the corner, the game changes, and it did."
Richmond, however, regained the lead on a 10-yard run by Forte.
0 13 22 7-42
0 7 7 0-14
Rich-Bischoff 10 pass from Ward (Howard kick), 10:42.
Tow-Godlasky 19 pass from T.Chroniger (Magas kick), 8:27.
Rich-Gaskins 1 run (kick failed), 3:17.
Tow-T.Chroniger 12 run (Magas kick), 10:54.
Rich-Forte 10 run (Mitchell pass from Ward), 8:01.
Rich-Gaskins 3 run (Howard kick), 6:15.
Rich-Graham 32 interception return (Howard kick), 5:28.
Rich-Gaskins 10 pass from Ward (Howard kick), 11:37.
First downs 24 10
Rushes-Yds 58-243 30-80
Passing 177 84
Cmp.-Att.-Int. 11-14-0 10-19-1
Return Yds 42 3
Punts-Avg. 1-(-12.0) 5-38.8
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 3-1
Penalties-Yds. 1-14 0-0
Time of poss. 36:55 23:05
Rushing-Richmond, Forte 22-121, Kirchoff 7-36, Wilkins 9-30, Gaskins 9-27, Laub 2-22, Keating 2-4, Ward 6-3, Team 1-0. Towson, Dameron 14-53, T. Chroniger 14-20, Tucker 1-4, Smith 1-3.
Passing-Richmond, Ward 11-14-0-177. Towson, T.Chroniger 6-13-1-38, Jayne 3-4-0-33, Tucker 1-2-0-13.
Receiving-Richmond, D.Boston 3-74, Gray 2-58, Mitchell 2-14, Grayson 1-18, Bischoff 1-10, Gaskins 1-10, Wilkins 1-(minus 7). Towson, Godlasky 3-39, Cegles 3-24, Moore 2-10, Ryan 1-6, Newsom 1-5.
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
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