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December 20. 2013 12:02AM

West, Towson look to run past Eagles

Towson running back Terrance West’s record-setting season reached new heights last week with 354 yards rushing and five touchdowns in a 49-39 win over Eastern Illinois. The Football Championship Subdivision rushing and scoring leader gets another chance to impress Saturday in the FCS semifinals at No. 3 seed Eastern Washington.

The winner advances to the national championship game on Jan. 4, in Frisco, Texas, to face either New Hampshire or North Dakota State.

Seventh-seeded Towson has won 11 straight on the road, while Eastern Washington is 24-3 all-time on the red turf at Roos Field. Quarterback Vernon Adams has recorded 4,600 yards and 53 touchdowns this season for the Eagles, who are making their third FCS semifinal appearance in the last four years. The Eagles will be tested by the Tigers’ 12th-ranked run defense and defensive end Ryan Delaire, who has a team-high 11.5 sacks.

The 5-11, 220-pound West, a three-time All-CAA first team selection, is 32 yards short of breaking the FCS single-season record of 2,326 set by Jamal Branch of Colgate in 2003. “After watching (West), he’s as good as any running back I’ve ever seen in my career here,” said Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin. The Tigers (12-2, 6-2 Colonial Athletic Association) will need a strong performance from senior quarterback Peter Athens (17 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) to keep pace with the explosive Eagles.

Eastern Washington (12-2, 8-0 Big Sky) set Big Sky single-season records for scoring (561) and passing yards (4,853) in last week’s 35-24 victory over Jacksonville State. Eastern Washington, which ranks fourth in FCS in total offense (530.1 yards per game) and sixth in scoring (40.1), boasts a solid run game led by Quincy Forte (1,131 yards). Wide receiver Cooper Kupp has 85 catches for 1,567 yards and 21 touchdowns and received the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman.


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