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Led by running back Darius Victor, Towson rallies to beat Holy Cross, 29-26

For The Baltimore Sun
Darius Victor had 22 carries for a career-high 202 yards in Towson's 29-26 win over Holy Cross.

Each time Darius Victor carries the ball for the Towson football team, fans at Johnny Unitas Stadium are treated to part of a rap song written by the running back's brother. It's called "Vito," after Victor's middle name.

Those who didn't know the song before attending the Tigers' game Saturday against Holy Cross now probably have it etched into their memory.

The 5-foot-8, 227-pound junior had a huge night, rushing 22 times for a career-high 202 yards and three touchdowns to lead Towson to a 29-26 win.

"We came out [after halftime] and handled our business like we should've been doing the whole game," Victor said. "I just tried to take every play and make the most out of it. Somebody told me I had 202. I said, 'Wow, my first time in the 200s.' Hopefully, it's not my last."

Down nine points at halftime, the Tigers outscored the Crusaders 22-3 to start the second half, with touchdown runs of 2, 34 and 4 yards by Victor. The Tigers finished with 276 rushing yards.

"Some of those runs were just incredible. He broke [tackles] and showed some great speed. He spun out of things, bounced off of things," Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore said. "Ultimately, we weren't able to do a good enough job of tackling him."

Towson (2-1), which has won back-to-back games after a season-opening loss to East Carolina, began its comeback on the opening drive of the third quarter. Victor's career-long 54-yard run highlighted an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by the junior's 2-yard run to cut the lead to 16-14.

After the Tigers got the ball back at Holy Cross' 42-yard line, Victor broke free around the right side for a 34-yard scoring run. When quarterback Connor Frazier found Christian Summers for the 2-point conversion, Towson was up 22-16.

Crusaders kicker Connor Fitzgerald's 42-yard field goal cut the lead to three late in the third.

A little trickery, however, helped the Tigers extend their lead. Towson faked a 31-yard field-goal attempt, and Frazier, the holder, found kicker Sam Hurwitz on a short pass for a first down. Victor then scored from the 4-yard line, his third touchdown of the night.

Nico Law's interception at Towson's 15 ended one Crusaders scoring chance early in the fourth quarter, and Tigers defensive lineman Max Tejada's pressure with under a minute left led to an incompletion by quarterback Peter Pujals on fourth down, preserving a three-point lead. Towson took over with less than a minute left and held on to beat Holy Cross (1-1) for the sixth time in nine meetings.

"We just started off really slow. Everybody wasn't doing their job," Frazier said. "We just need to go out there and relax, do our job and not freak out. And I think that's what we did the second half. We came out more focused. We knew we were the better football team."

The Crusaders, who were coming off a bye week, looked strong early. After forcing a three-and-out on the Tigers' opening drive, their offensive line began to dominate. Starting at its 40, Holy Cross marched 60 yards on 14 plays, taking the lead on Diquan Walker's 1-yard plunge over the right side on fourth-and-1.

"They showed us a little bit about what two weeks of preparation can do," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "They played their hearts out."

Towson, meanwhile, relied mainly on Victor, who darted through a gaping hole on the left side for a 24-yard run to open the Tigers' first drive of the second quarter.

After getting past midfield, the drive stalled following a pair of drops.

But Towson's defense soon made the key play its offense couldn't: Defensive back Alfonso August stepped in front of a pass intended for Jake Wieczorek at Holy Cross' 17 for the Tigers' first interception this season.

Seven plays later, Frazier found Andre Dessenberg in the front corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7.

It didn't take long for the Crusaders to regain the lead after an ill-advised squib kickoff gave them the ball at midfield.

Just 2:27 later, Walker leaped over the line for a 1-yard score.

Holy Cross extended the lead to 16-7 shortly before halftime when Towson punter Jake Ryder couldn't handle a low snap, picked up the ball under duress and had his punt blocked by the Crusaders' Luke Ford. The ball rolled backward before Ryder kicked it out of the end zone for a safety.

The Tigers had one more shot to pull closer before halftime, but Frazier's 40-yard throw to Jacquille Veii (Maryland) was broken up at the goal line by linebacker Ryan Brady.

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