Several bright spots for Towson in stinging loss to Terps

Ryan Stover (left), Rob Ambrose (center) and Monty Fenner (right) talk postgame about Towson's 63-17 loss. Photo by Jordan Cope.

Ryan Stover (left), Rob Ambrose (center) and Monty Fenner (right) discuss Towson’s 63-17 loss. Photo by Jordan Cope.

Editor’s Note: Baltimore Watchdog reporters went six deep in the press box for Saturday’s Maryland-Towson showdown. Read four reporters’ takes on the Tigers below.

By Nick Rynes
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Their body language said it all. Minutes after a 63-17 loss to Maryland, two of Towson’s standout players stared down at the stat sheet and stared stoically at the group of assembled reporters. Their coach broke the ice.

“Have to compliment Maryland,” Rob Ambrose said. “They’re a very good football team.”

Ambrose praised the play of his redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Stover, sitting to his right. But when a reporter asked if he was happy with the play of his freshmen as a whole, he drew the line.

“Don’t say happy,” Ambrose said. “Me and happy are not in the same continent right now. I know our guys. I told them this pregame, I told them this after the game. I know how good they can be. Individuals and as groups. But what I know about them doesn’t mean squat until they start to believe it about themselves.”

At times Saturday, Towson (1-1) had a reason to believe. Although the Tigers spotted Maryland 21 points in the first nine minutes, a touchdown to begin the second quarter and a trip into Maryland territory minutes later gave Towson a chance to move within a touchdown of the Terrapins at halftime. But an ill-advised throw from Stover toward the Maryland sidelines, intercepted by the Terps’ Darnell Savage Jr. and returned for a touchdown, all but sealed Towson’s fate.

The Tigers’ defense couldn’t get off the field Saturday. Maryland (2-0) racked up 534 yards, including 367 on the ground, in just 22 minutes on offense. The Terrapins punted just twice.

“Whatever we did last week on defense, we covered the other end of the spectrum today,” said Ambrose. “Good news is we’ll have a lot to learn from that.”

Towson was unable to contain Kasim Hill, starting his first game at quarterback for Maryland, early in the game. He connected on his first eight passes. He had just 167 passing yards on the day in less than three quarters of action.

“Our game play was to keep [Kasim Hill] contained,” said Towson defensive back Monty Fenner. “We knew that he made plays outside of the pocket, so the key was to make him a pocket passer this game.”

Hill didn’t kill Maryland with his legs — but many of his teammates did. Maryland’s Ty Johnson became the fourth player in school history to have four straight 100-yard rushing games. In only five rushing attempts, Johnson totaled 124 yards.

Wide receiver D.J. Moore befuddled Towson all afternoon, breaking tackles — at least five on one touchdown catch — and racing past the secondary for three touchdowns.

“They were bigger dudes, but when we got the opportunity to make a play, we just gotta make the play,” Fenner said.

Added Ambrose: “That I am completely annoyed with. When everything is right, and we’ve put everybody in the right position to make the plays, and we still don’t get it done.”

A main issue for the Towson defense was giving up huge plays right after Maryland got the ball. There were two Maryland drives of just one play — 46- and 74-yard rushing touchdowns from Johnson. Maryland averaged just under two minutes per offensive possession when it scored.

There were some positives the Tigers’ defense could take away from this game. Early on, they forced a turnover as they stopped Maryland on the goal line on fourth down.

“That was pretty big especially in that situation,” Fenner said. “We definitely needed a spark.”

But the spark was short-lived, as the pick six came on the ensuing drive.

Ambrose said he hopes the team learns from its mistakes.

“That’s also how you grow,” said Ambrose. “They’re learning through adversity, they’re learning through failure. That means they’re going to be really strong men some day.”


By Jordan Cope
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Towson redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Stover was thrown into the fire Saturday at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Making his first career start against a Maryland team that upset Texas a week earlier, Stover showed flashes of promise and moments of questionable decision-making.

Sometimes in the same drive.

In the second quarter, Maryland looked poised to take a 28-7 lead after D.J. Moore returned a Towson punt 33 yards to the Tigers’ 10 yard line. However, Towson forced a turnover on downs, stopping Maryland on fourth-and-goal on the one-yard line.

“[The goal-line stand] was pretty big,” redshirt junior defensive back Monty Fenner said. “We definitely needed a spark, just because someone is on our goal line doesn’t mean that they will always score.”

Instead of running up the middle on first and 10 from their own one, the Tigers let Stover air it out. He completed a 29-yard pass — perhaps the most impressive throw of his day — to Jabari Greenwood.

Later in the drive, Stover reached Rodney Dorsey on a 55-yard pass to the Maryland 10. But the play was called back because the Tigers were in an illegal formation.

Just as Towson crossed midfield, Stover launched a pass toward the Maryland sideline that was picked off by Maryland’s Darnell Savage Jr. and returned 75 yards for a touchdown that put the Terps ahead 28-7 going into halftime.

Although Stover threw for two touchdowns and 210 yards, the young quarterback made a detrimental mistake that gave Maryland momentum.

“For us to beat [Maryland], for us to beat any money five school, we’re going to have to play damn near perfect,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. “We cannot turn the ball over and we have to force turnovers and get a break here and there.”

In the second half, Stover threw his second interception of the afternoon, but it proved to be meaningless by the end of the blowout contest.

The redshirt freshman quarterback finished the game completing 21-of-36 pass attempts and rushing for 52 yards.

“Try being a redshirt freshman playing a team that probably is going to be ranked in the top 25 pretty soon,” Ambrose said. “He did some really good stuff today, he did some boneheaded stuff today, but he did some really good stuff.”


By Karuga Koinange
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Making his first career start, freshman quarterback Ryan Stover drove Towson downfield in a possession that began at the Tigers’ own one-yard line. It was the second quarter and Towson trailed Maryland 21-7.

Towson had just made a goal-line stand and was looking to keep pace with the uber-talented Maryland offense. Stover had been impressive all drive but made one critical mistake. He floated a pass that was intercepted by Maryland junior safety Darnell Savage Jr. and returned 75 yards for a touchdown.

The pick-six ended all hopes of a Towson comeback.

The Tigers (1-1) fought admirably in their intrastate game against Maryland (2-0), but inconsistencies on offense and poor defensive execution led to a convincing 63-17 Maryland victory at the Capital One Stadium Saturday.

“In order to beat [Maryland] or any money-five school, we’re going to have to play damn near perfect, cannot turn the ball over and have to get a break here or there,” Towson said coach Rob Ambrose said.

The Terps came into the game as the heavy favorites and looked poised to put the game away early. Freshman quarterback Kasim Hill connected with junior wide receiver D.J. Moore for scores on the first two drives. Hill completed his first eight passes and finished 13-for-16 for 163 yards.

Maryland put up three quick touchdowns in the first quarter, but the Tigers remained collected. Stover marched his team downfield on an impressive 11-play drive early in the second quarter. He capped off the drive with his a 10-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jabari Allen.

That play marked Stover’s first career touchdown pass and Allen’s first career scoring reception.

Stover was given solid protection throughout the day and complimented the play of his offensive line following the game.

“We changed protections [because] we had a good feel for what they were going to do and we executed it well,” Stover said.

Stover completed a 59-yard touchdown strike to freshman wide receiver Rodney Dorsey in the fourth quarter for his second score on the day. He finished 21-for-36 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and showed nice scrambling ability, finishing with 52 yards on the ground. His two interceptions, however, were costly.

Despite the mistakes, Stover earned praise from his coach.

“Try being a redshirt freshman going up against a team that’s probably going to be ranked in the top 25,” Ambrose said. “He did some really good stuff today.”

Though Towson’s offense executed well at times, the defense had a tough time making basic tackles. Maryland put on another impressive scoring outburst, led by a formidable ground attack. The Terps finished with 367 rushing yards overall.

Junior running back Ty Johnson accounted for 124 of those yards on just five rushes. His longest carry came on a 74-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter for one of his two scores on the day.

Towson’s defensive leader, junior safety Monty Fenner, attributed Maryland’s offensive explosion to poor defensive execution on his team’s part.

“We had a lot of missed tackles throughout the game and we just need to wrap up,” Fenner said. “They were bigger, but when you have an opportunity to make the play then you just have to make the play.”

The Tigers did show a bit of life on defense, including the second quarter goal-line stand.

“That was pretty big, especially in that situation,” Fenner said. “Just because someone is on the 1-yard line, doesn’t mean that they will always score.”

Towson also succeeded in preventing Hill from gashing the defense with big running plays.

Ambrose said he viewed this game as a confidence booster for the rest of the season.

“I know how good they can be,” Ambrose said of his players. “When they go back and watch the film of them against the all-mighty Maryland Terrapins and watch how they performed individually or as a group, I think their confidence levels are going to go up.”

The Tigers finish non-conference play next week as they travel to face Saint Francis at Terry Fox Field on Sept. 16. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.


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