Allen Lessels' College Football: Highly ranked Towson a tall order for UNH
By ALLEN LESSELS New Hampshire Union Leader
Towson, no doubt, desires to make its statement in even stronger terms.
The University of New Hampshire Wildcats, especially the folks on the defensive side of the ball, are looking for a little redemption with a dash of payback on the side.
There’s motivation galore and much on the line in Saturday’s UNH-Towson game at noon (CSNE) at Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md.
UNH slipped to 1-2 on the season with last week’s 34-27 loss to Lehigh and slid to No. 19 and No. 18 in the national polls this week.
Towson is flying along with a 5-0 record and is No. 2 in one poll, No. 3 in another.
The Tigers are fueled by last season. They beat UNH 64-35 in the last game of the regular season and figured the next day they were going to receive a bid to the FCS tournament.
They did not.
UNH got in with an 8-3 record and Towson stayed home at 7-4.
This year, the Tigers plan to leave no doubt about their qualifications for the tournament and are well on their way to doing just that.
This is a game the UNH guys on the defensive side of the ball circled when the schedule came out.
Towson and running back Terrance West in particular ran all over them — the Tigers and he have done that the last two years actually — and they have something to prove.
West, a 5-foot-11 and 223 pound junior, is at it again. He’s leading the Colonial Athletic Association at 129 yards rushing per game and his 12 touchdowns on the ground are twice as many as anybody else has scored.
“He’s explosive,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “He’s a forward-pad leaning runner. He has great size. He has great acceleration. He’s as good as we’ve seen in this league in a long time.”
West teams with Peter Athens — a senior quarterback who likely has his own payback in mind against UNH — in the Towson backfield.
“He’s done a great job of picking up where they left off at the quarterback position,” McDonnell said. “If you watch him, he finds open guys. He’s making the checks with his eyes, going through the progressions, and he’s doing a very good job. I think the offensive line protects him quite well, and I think they’ve got a great bunch of guys.”
Athens has been around. He opened his true freshman season as Towson’s starter in 2009, back when the Tigers struggled.
He was the starter in a 57-7 loss to UNH on Oct. 3 that year and had the roughest of days. He attempted 20 passes and completed seven. UNH intercepted five of his passes and Dino Vasso (31 yards) and Ryan McGuinness (96 yards) each ran a pick back for a touchdown.
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DARTMOUTH, 1-1 overall, opens its Ivy schedule with a game at Penn, also 1-1, on Saturday at 1. The Quakers are the defending Ivy champs, have won three of the last four titles and were picked in the preseason poll to win another.
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ST. ANSELM, 0-4 overall and 0-3 in the Northeast-10, plays at Bentley, 2-2 and 1-2, on Saturday at 1.
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PLYMOUTH STATE, 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the MASCAC, plays Westfield State, 2-1 and 1-0, in its Homecoming game on Saturday at 2. Jake Matthews, a senior defensive back out of Windham and Salem High, leads the Panthers with 30 tackles and has an interception..
Alessels@unionleader.com On Twitter: @AllenLessels