Jan 3, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT
CAA Football and the FCS National Championship … two things that go together well. After Towson’s emotional 35-31 win over Eastern Washington in the FCS Semifinals, CAA Football is once again in the spotlight with a chance to bring home another national title.
That being said, none of this week’s excitement in Frisco, Texas (home of the FCS Championship game), could have been possible without the improbable game-winning drive completed by the Tigers nearly two weeks ago in Cheney, Wash. While Towson backup QB Connor Frazier had managed the offense well in place of the injured Peter Athens, the situation looked somewhat bleak as he would need to guide the Tigers one more time down by three points with just 1:35 left to play.
Frazier handled the opportunity like a seasoned upperclassmen, driving his team down the field on a historic 10-play, 75-yard effort that concluded with his game-winning one-yard TD plunge with 17 seconds remaining. As a result, Towson finds itself one win away from the program’s first-ever national title.
On Saturday, the Tigers try to become the fifth different CAA Football team to win the trophy since 2003. Delaware, James Madison, Richmond and Villanova were the other teams to take home the crown during that stretch, with UD (2007, 2010) and UMass (2006) losing in the title game during the run.
The Tigers’ playoff run has been remarkable considering the number of quality teams the team has defeated. Towson outlasted Fordham at home in the second round before stifling two of the FCS’ top offensive powers in Eastern Illinois and Eastern Washington in the quarters and semis, respectively. Along the way, the so-called “most physical team in CAA Football” has out-rushed playoff foes by a 902-408 yard margin while its underrated offensive line led by consensus All-American Eric Pike has helped produce one of the most impressive seasons by a running back in college football history.
Only a junior, Towson’s Terrance West enters the national title tilt having scored 41 total TDs (40 rushing) after having set single-season FCS records for rushing yards (2,410), total TDs and rushing TDs.
If you would like to read up on news and notes around CAA Football and our trip to the FCS Championship in Frisco, check out CAAFootball.com and caafootball.wordpress.com. We also bring you all the latest from around the league on Twitter @CAAFootball as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Now for the numbers…
- Terrance West has now rushed for an FCS single-season record 2,410 yards after scampering for 115 yards on 27 carries in the win over Eastern Washington. West broke the FCS single-season mark set by former Colgate RB Jamal Branch in 2003.
- West has scored 41 total TDs this season – including 40 rushing. Both marks are FCS and all-time Division I single-season records by a RB.
- Former CAA Football standout Omar Cuff of Delaware held the previous FCS single-season rushing TD record of 35, which he set in 2007. Cuff also owned the previous FCS total TD record of 39 that was set in the same season.
- Towson signal caller Connor Frazier, who replaced the injured Peter Athens for most of the second half aat EWU, passed and rushed for a career-high 98 yards in the semifinal victory.
- Frazier went a perfect 5-for-5 through the air during the Tigers’ 71-yard, 10 play drive late in the fourth quarter in Cheney, including scoring the game-winning rushing score from one yard out with just 17 seconds to play.
- Athens finished the EWU game an efficient 8-of-9 passing for 144 yards and two TDs and enters Saturday’s championship having completed 29-of-37 passes overall (.784) to go along with five TDs and no interceptions in the playoffs.
- Towson’s 35-31 win in Cheney was the team’s 12th consecutive on the road dating back to last season. The Tigers’ last road defeat came on Oct. 6, 2012.
- Tiger WR Brian Dowling had one of his best collegiate games when his team needed it most versus the Eagles. The junior caught a career-high four passes for 88 yards and one TD, including a critical 22-yard pass as part of Towson’s game-winning drive.
- The Tigers have outscored opponents, 274-146, in the second half through 15 games played this season.
- In 2013 the Tigers are a remarkable 23-for-32 on fourth down. Ten of those fourth-down attempts have gone for TDs as well.
- Three Towson players have registered at least 100 tackles over the course of the season: Telvion Clark (139 TT, 10.5 TFL, 4.5 S), Monte Gaddis (117 TT, 8.0 TFL, 2.5 S) and Tye Smith (100 TT, 4.5 TFL 1.0 S).
- NDSU leads the nation in allowing just 11.1 points per game and just 247.5 total yards per contest. The Bison have allowed a total of 13 fourth-quarter points this season.
- CAA Football has been represented in the FCS Championship game eight times over the last 11 years.
Eye-Opening Semifinal Stats…
Saturday’s title game will be the fourth-straight contest in which Towson has faced an opponent that has defeated an FBS foe in 2013. The others were Fordham, Eastern Illinois and Eastern Washington. NDSU beat Kansas State in its season-opener, 24-21, while the Tigers topped UConn, 33-18.
NDSU features the FCS’ all-time winningest QB in senior Brock Jensen. He’s won 47 career games heading into Saturday’s showdown. The Bison feature two 1,000-yard rushers in Sam Ojuri (1,314 yards) and John Crockett (1,191 yards).
The Bison have won 23 straight games and will look to become just the second FCS team to win three straight national championships. Appalachian State (2005-07) was the last team to accomplish the feat.
During its playoff run, Towson will have faced the FCS’ top-four highest-rated statistical QBs based on passing efficiency. Those QBs were EWU’s Vernon Adams (No. 1, 183.1), Fordham’s Michael Nebrich (No. 2, 171.3), EIU’s Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 3, 168.3) and NDSU’s Brock Jensen (No. 4, 168.2).
Towson allows 121.1 rushing and 245 passing yards per game. Offensively, the Tigers average 248.3 ypg on the ground, while West leads the FCS with 161.3 ypg.
West has scored an impressive 83 career TDs as a Tiger in only three seasons. The all-time single-season FCS record of 89 TD s is held by former league great Brian Westbrook, with former legendary back Adrian Peterson of Georgia Southern ranking a close second with 87.
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