Leaping past the Tigers: Long pass plays, clutch defensive stops fuel win

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October 2, 2007

12:07 AM

In a game where their offense’s longest scoring drive consisted of only four plays, the Tribe relied on the deep ball to carry them to a narrow 27-22 victory over the Towson University Tigers. Junior quarterback Jake Phillips threw for two scores and junior defensive back Derek Cox picked off a pair of passes as the Tribe rallied from a thirteen-point first-half deficit. The win gave the College a perfect 5-0 all-time record against Towson and a 3-2 overall record for the year.

p. “I don’t think it was real pretty today, but we scraped out a win,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “The fact that we got ourselves back to .500 is important because it gives us some momentum. We’re going to need to play better in the future, but this victory is still very satisfying for our players.”

p. Trailing 27-22 with 26 seconds remaining, Towson had a golden opportunity for a last-minute comeback victory. On second down at the Tribe 14 yard-line, the Tigers had three downs to punch it into the endzone. After two errant attempts on second and third down, Towson quarterback Sean Schaefer dropped back and threw an incomplete pass into Cox’s tight coverage at the left front corner of the end zone.

p. “On the sidelines I told the guys to prepare for the worst case scenario because we might have to go back out there,” Cox said. “We get excited about any chance we get to step on the field and make plays.”

p. For the majority of the first half, the Tribe looked lethargic. Expecting Towson to come out with a heavy emphasis on their aerial attack, the Tribe defense found themselves caught off guard by the Towson ground game.

p. “Coming into the game, Towson hadn’t really run the ball well so it wasn’t our major focus,” Cox said. “We were more worried about putting pressure on Schaefer and disrupting the passing game.”

p. The Towson tailback tandem sliced through the Tribe defense with ease as Nick Williams utilized his bruising running style between the tackles while Matt Castor used his blazing speed to burn the Tribe defense to the outside on sweeps and tosses. Unable to establish a ground game of their own and already trailing 13-3, it seemed certain that the Tribe would fall even farther behind before the half as the Towson offense moved into the red zone.

p. The turning point of the contest came, however, when senior defensive linemen Sean Lissemore intercepted a Sean Schaefer pass at the Tribe nine yard-line. Jake Phillips and the Tribe offense wasted no time in capitalizing on the Schaefer’s miscue, as four plays later Jake Phillips connected with junior receiver Elliot Mack for a perfectly executed sixty one yard touchdown strike.

p. “The touchdown to Mack was textbook. He ran a good route, we had just enough time to get it off, he made a great play on the ball, and had enough speed to take it into the end zone,” Phillips said.

p. The 61-yard bomb was a career long reception and pass for both Mack and Phillips, respectively. Moments later, however, the Tribe offense would come up with yet another big play.

p. After a three and out by the Towson offense the Tribe started their drive with great field position at the Towson 45 yard line. Three plays later, Jake Phillips demonstrated the quick strike ability of the Tribe offense as he connected for a thirty eight yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jake Nicholas. The score capped a stretch of seventeen unanswered points in a period of only four minutes and twelve seconds for the Tribe.

p. Towson made things interesting in the second half when Schaefer connected with Demetrius Harrison to draw within five points. However, the Tribe defense stuffed the Towson two point conversion attempt, preventing the Tigers from drawing within a field goal. The Tribe’s defensive stop proved pivotal, as the Tigers were forced to go for six rather than kick a game tying field goal later in the game.

p. The Tribe hopes to carry momentum from their victory into an important two-game road trip, during which they will face off against conference rivals Villanova University and University of Maine.

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