Dec 12, 2013, 4:59 PM EDT
We’ve reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, with Towson and New Hampshire still playing for a chance at the national title.
The Tigers won their first-ever playoff game last weekend with a 48-28 win over Fordham. The victory also set a new program record for wins in a single season (11). UNH, meanwhile, defeated rival Maine, 41-27, for the second time in 15 days — also beating the Black Bears in the regular-season finale on Nov. 23 — to advance to the quarterfinals for the seventh time in 10 years. CAA Football owns an all-time record of 18-27 in quarterfinal action, keeping in mind that some of those have been intra-league contests.
Numbers will certainly play a huge factor in this weekend’s matchups, which feature second-seeded Eastern Illinois hosting Towson in Charleston and fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana welcoming New Hampshire to Hammond. The Tigers square off against the Panthers on Friday night at 8 p.m. and in front of a national audience on ESPN2, while the ‘Cats try to tame the Lions on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
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And now for the numbers…
- Towson QB Peter Athens saved one of his best games as a Tiger for when it counted most – in the FCS playoffs second round. The fifth-year senior passed for 301 yards on 13-of-15 throwing to go along with three TDs in Towson’s 48-28 win over Fordham.
- Even more impressive? Athens finished a perfect 7-of-7 for 166 yards in the second half.
- Towson’s win over Fordham – the teams’ 11th of the year – not only marked the program’s first-ever playoff victory, but it set a new single-season mark for wins. The Tigers previously had three teams earn 10 wins in one season (10-0 in 1974, 10-3 in 1976 and 10-2 in 1983).
- While junior RB Terrance West managed just 76 yards on the ground against the Rams, he made the most of his yardage with three trips to the end zone, pushing his impressive season total to 33 TDs and 34 scores overall.
- Towson had a pair of freshmen step up in last weekend’s win, including CAA Football Offensive Rookie of the Year Darius Victor, who rushed for a career-high 105 yards and one TD while hauling in a single catch for 41 yards and another TD. Freshman WR Andre Dessenberg finished with just three catches, but totaled 94 yards and one TD in the victory.
- Towson outscored Fordham 27-7 in the second half after a 21-21 tie at the break. In fact, the Tigers have been phenomenal after intermission this season, outscoring foes, 232-97, and allowing a total of just 24 points in the third quarter alone.
- October 6, 2012, was the last time Towson lost a road game. The Tigers have won 10 straight away from home and went a perfect 7-0 during the regular season in 2013.
- New Hampshire’s 41-27 victory over Maine marked the first time the Wildcats have earned two wins over a single CAA Football in the same season. It’s also the first time the Wildcats have secured two wins in the same postseason appearance .
- UNH QB Sean Goldrich threw for a career-high 291 yards and three TDs in last weekend’s second go-around at Maine. Two of those TD throws were tossed to senior WR Justin Mello (five catches, 90 yards), with the other being sent to senior WR Jimmy Giansante (two catches, 61 yards).
- In the win over Maine, senior RB Chris Setian scored two critical fourth-quarter TDs and finished with 54 yards. Fellow back Nico Steriti had 74 yards on 14 carries. Both Setian and Steriti have averaged 5.3 yards per carry this season.
- Steriti, who has rushed for 946 yards this season, can become the first UNH player to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground since John McCoy did so in 2005.
- Maine senior QB and First Team All-CAA Football selection Marcus Wasilewski threw for 229 yards and two TDs in defeat. He finished his impressive final campaign with 3,238 passing yards, good for the most by any Maine player in single-season program history.
- Black Bears head coach Jack Cosgrove was named AFCA FCS Region 1 Coach of the Year on Tuesday. During his 21 years on the sidelines in Orono, Cosgrove has won Atlantic -10 Coach of the Year honors twice (1996, 2001) in addition to CAA Football Coach of the Year honors this season.
- New Hampshire travels to Southeastern Louisiana to face the fourth-seeded Lions on Saturday night. It’s the program’s third trip to the Bayou State, with its two other trips also taking place in the playoffs. The Wildcats defeated McNeese State, 49-13, in the first round in 2009 and lost to Western Kentucky, 14-3, in a 1975 Division II semifinal in Baton Rouge.
- Overall, UNH has won eight of its last nine games while outscoring opponents, 299-151, during this stretch.
- In the Wildcats’ last three games (vs. Maine, vs. Lafayette, at Maine) the team has allowed its opponents to convert a combined 9-of-43 third-down attempts.
Eye-Opening Stats of the Week:
- Towson ranks fifth in the FCS in offensive fourth-down conversion percentage (.724).
- New Hampshire ranks 15th in the FCS in scoring defense (21.2 ppg).
- The Tigers have converted fourth-down opportunities 21-of-29 times this season, scoring TDs on eight of those fourth-down plays.
- The Wildcats average 3.31 sacks per game, good for No. 5 in the FCS.
- Towson ranks No. 7 in the FCS in pass sacks allowed per game (0.77).
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