This season, the Towson football team had encountered its fair share of struggles in the first quarter, allowing opponents to score first in five of its last six games. That concern has now flipped to the final period.
After surrendering 22 consecutive points -- including 15 in a 29-second span in the final minute of regulation -- in Saturday's 32-31 loss to No. 21 Delaware, the Tigers are questioning how they failed to protect a 31-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Coach Rob Ambrose said Monday morning during a conference call arranged by the Colonial Athletic Association that the team has to develop a killer instinct.
"I think there is a mentality in the locker room that we have yet to understand here as a program in the building process of a program," he said. "We're great when coming from behind, and we're great with a chip on our shoulder, and we're great when we're challenged. But staying on top of the hill and keeping that land as our own is something that we're still learning to do."
Saturday's loss was the first time this fall that Towson (8-2 overall and 4-2 in the league) -- which will certainly drop from No. 7 when The Sports Network updates its poll Monday afternoon -- had lost a fourth-quarter advantage. But Ambrose said the impetus is on the team to make sure that will also be the last time.
"There's individual experiences that help the program grow to the next level, to a step above, and I think we've done some of these things exceptionally well in the past," he said. "And this is one of those growing pains this year where being on top, staying on top, and keeping that mentality throughout the game is something we're learning how to do well, and we haven't gotten there yet."
The Tigers will have 12 days until their next game at William and Mary (6-3, 3-2) to address that issue and others. But Ambrose said the upcoming bye is important for the team's overall health.
"I can tell you that we need it," he said. "If you look at the composite schedule across the board in this country in Division I, there are not a lot of teams that have played 10 games in a row against the competition that we've played and have eight wins. Our guys need to heal. They need to rest. We're going to practice and everything, but we need to heal. We need to heal physically, we need to heal heart-wise, and we need to heal each other. This has been a long grind, and we've got two of the best teams in the league coming up. So we need this."