Terrance West became the Towson football program's career rushing leader with a career-high 272 yards on 29 carries in Saturday's 48-32 victory over Richmond. To some degree, the junior running back owes a good deal of his success to the five guys who open holes for him.
Senior left tackle Eric Pike, senior left guard Anthony Davis, senior center Doug Shaw, freshman right guard Sam Evans and senior right tackle Randall Harris have helped the No. 8 Tigers rank 14th in the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing, averaging 237.9 yards and scoring a nation-best 32 touchdowns on the ground.
Several weeks ago, Pike said the offensive line knows that West can create big gains with only a small amount of space.
"You just know you've got a confident running back that's going to run hard on every play," Pike said. "He has some goals that he wants to get accomplished, and he's not going to let anything get in the way of that. He has his head on his shoulders and his mind focused on that."
Coach Rob Ambrose said it's not difficult to see the chemistry between West and the offensive line.
"When you take the five offensive linemen and the running back, when they all become one and when there's a synergy between all of them in how they move, what they do, how they say, if you have that, you're having a large degree of success," Ambrose said Monday morning during a conference organized by the Colonial Athletic Association. "With a guy like Eric Pike who has seen it all and done it all, we call him Old Man. He's the grandfather of the group, and if Eric says something, we all stop -- coaches included. I'd be hard-pressed to say anything different about Doug Shaw as well. Those two are running the show and they're up front and Terrance is behind, but they all work together, they all grow together, they all pick each other up, they help each other in everything they do, and it equates to success."
That doesn't take away from West's performance this season. The Baltimore native and Northwestern graduate leads the country in rushing with 1,402 yards, has scored 24 touchdowns, and scored five times against the Spiders, tying a single game-high he had in a 49-7 rout of Delaware State on Sept. 14.
West and Towson (8-1 overall and 4-1 in the league) will try to add to those numbers this Saturday against Delaware (6-2, 3-1).
Blue Hens coach Dave Brock said the game plan to limit West isn't hard.
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"To make it very simple, we'll try to tackle him," Brock said Monday morning. "He's a terrific player. I've been coaching in this league a long time and I've seen some really good players in this league, some really good backs, and he certainly ranks up there with one of the best I've seen. I think it plays into them having a really, really good team. When you look at them, I don't know that they have a weakness. They're very, very good at everything that they do. ... I think when you have a guy like West, it hardens your team. I think when you can run the ball and you're physical and you're tough, I think it makes your team physical and tough, and that's what jumps off the film for me."