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In season that's rarely been easy, Towson defeats Elon, 21-19

Nothing has been easy for the Towson football team.

After a 2013 campaign in which the program set a school record for wins and made its first appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision title game, the Tigers have struggled to replicate that success this fall.

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And even after the team scored 21 points in the first half Saturday against visiting Elon, Towson still had to hold its collective breath as a Phoenix 2-point attempt failed with 1:11 left in regulation, and the Tigers escaped with a 21-19 win.

An announced 7,665 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson could only watch as Elon went 87 yards on 13 plays and narrowed a 21-13 deficit to two points when senior quarterback Mike Quinn lobbed a pass to senior wide receiver Kierre Brown in the back-left corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.

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But Quinn's throw to Brown in the back-right corner of the end zone on the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt was overthrown, and the Tigers recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.

With the victory, Towson improved to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association and collected its second two-game winning streak of the season. As tense as the victory was, coach Rob Ambrose eagerly took it at face value.

"A win's a win, and you can stop there," he said. "We're not going to put a 'but' behind it because at the end of the day and 20 years from now, this still comes out as a win. I probably will have more hair and less whatever that heart stuff is if we wouldn't make it so hard. But a win is always a win. And if you will recall, this season we have been in very similar situations with different outcomes. And considering the option of one of those and one of these, I will take these."

Junior quarterback Connor Frazier's numbers appeared solid. After completing 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) of his passes for career highs in yards (181) and touchdown passes (two) in the team's 24-17 victory over Delaware on Oct. 18, Frazier was 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) for 187 yards and two touchdowns against Elon.

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But after scoring 21 points in the first half, the offense sputtered in the final two quarters. Towson opened the third quarter by moving to the Elon 21-yard line, but Frazier's pass, intended for sophomore wide receiver Andre Dessenberg along the left sideline, was intercepted by sophomore cornerback Adrian McClendon.

Another promising series ended with sophomore tight end Tanner Vallely and junior defensive tackle Jon Desir failing to prevent Elon junior Jeremy Gloston from blocking junior kicker Sam Hurwitz's 41-yard field-goal attempt early in the fourth quarter. Towson was shut out for the final 30:31 of the game.

"I think in the first half, we weren't really making too many mistakes," Frazier said. "We were executing very well. Seemed like every play was working. In the second half, we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot. Elon was stopping us on drives because we were committing some penalties in the red zone. I made a bad decision early in the third quarter. That was basically the difference in the two halves."

Sophomore running back Darius Victor gained 153 yards on 28 carries and scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter. It was his sixth 100-yard rushing effort of the season.

Victor moved into 12th place on the school's career rushing list. He has 1,579 yards, ahead of Mike Maloney (1,458 yards) and behind Paul Cillo (1,618).

The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game. Frazier floated a pass over the outstretched fingers of redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Blair and into Dessenberg's hands in the back right corner of the end zone with 6:22 left in the first quarter.

After a Phoenix three-and-out, Towson earned a 2-yard scoring run from Victor with 1:04 left in the period.

Elon (1-8, 0-5) managed to get a 25-yard field goal from sophomore kicker John Gallagher with 11:20 remaining in the second quarter. But after a fruitless Phoenix series that led to a short punt that gave the Tigers the ball at Elon's 39-yard line, Frazier hit Victor with 21-yard pass and then connected with Dessenberg on an 18-yard deep post to give Towson a 21-3 advantage with 31 seconds left before halftime.

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