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Must-win game at James Madison on Saturday looms for Towson football

Just one-quarter through the Colonial Athletic Association portion of its schedule, Towson is already facing rock-and-a-hard-place situation.

At 0-2 and in last place in the 12-team league, the Tigers (2-4 overall) trail conference leaders New Hampshire (4-1 overall and 2-0 in the CAA) and Villanova (4-1, 2-0) by two games. And no team has captured the league championship with more than two losses.

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That would seem to heighten the importance of Saturday's road game against James Madison (3-3, 1-2), but coach Rob Ambrose said the focus is more detailed.

"The next play we play is a must-win situation," he said Monday during his weekly conference call organized by the conference. "Looking forward in any way, shape or form is not going to help us at all. We've got to worry about winning the next play, doing our job, and taking care of the little things. If we do that enough and they build upon each other just like they always do, then we will have a chance to win ballgames."

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Towson is 0-2 in the CAA for the first time since 2010, and the reasons for the program's swift decline from playing for the Football Championship Subdivision national title in January can be found in the numbers.

The passing offense ranks last in the league at yards per game (119.2) and passing efficiency (94.7), and the overall unit ranks 11th in third-down conversions (27.7 percent on 23-of-83 opportunities). The defense has allowed opponents to convert 75.0 percent (9-of-12) of their fourth-down chances, which ranks 11th in the conference.

Ambrose conceded that the squad's troubles on both sides of the ball have become a source of irritation for everyone involved.

"It's not necessarily about getting out of the hole, but understanding how and why you're in the hole which you dug and then when you understand the reasons why you're in it, it's not that hard to get out of it," he said. "Having had a chance to win a lot more ballgames and being in these games and not finishing, it's extremely frustrating. It's frustrating in the locker room, it's frustrating with the coaches, it's frustrating for everybody. [But] there's a whole bunch of noise about it, and I'm kind of excited about that. I can remember a time when nobody cared. We weren't in ballgames win or lose. So I'm excited about that, and I'm excited about the fact that there are things that are good and getting better, but it's extremely frustrating for everyone."

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