The Towson football team’s colors are black and gold, not yellow, but there were enough penalties in its 21-19 win Saturday against Colonial Athletic Association newcomer Elon to cause confusion for some and exasperation for others — namely, coach Rob Ambrose.
The Tigers (4-5, 2-3) had entered the game ranked third best in the CAA in penalty yards per game and sixth in total infractions. But the team surpassed its 43.4-yard average in the first half and finished with 91 yards on nine penalties. The penalty yardage was a season high, while the number of penalties matched a season high.
"How many times did penalties take us away from points?" he asked rhetorically afterward. The Tigers were "shooting ourselves in the foot constantly. As a head coach, when you're coming off a bye, what's very difficult is to try to get rid of the physical hangover of not being in the rhythm of a week. I thought we did that. I thought the kids were fast, they were physical, they played hard. I didn't see any rust on them. But it is truly the little things that come to haunt you when you're not in that rhythm. … It's something for us to focus on and improve on. I always love having these problems with a 'W' attached to them."
The infractions were especially painful in a second half during which the Tigers were shut out. Towson drove to the Phoenix 6 on its opening series of the third quarter, but an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on sophomore wide receiver Andre Dessenberg moved the Tigers outside of the red zone. Two plays later, junior quarterback Connor Frazier threw a bad interception.
Near the end of the third quarter, they appeared to get to Elon's 5 after a 12-yard run by sophomore running back Darius Victor. But a holding penalty on sophomore center Brady Stup negated the play, and the series ended when junior kicker Sam Hurwitz's 41-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
"We moved the ball just fine until we had a penalty," Ambrose said. "For the youngest [players] of this offense, they are not to the point where they can overcome penalties like it's nothing. For the education of that, you have to have penalties and learn to overcome them and be that way. We weren't as effective offensively due to penalties."