Towson Is Coming To Town - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Towson Is Coming To Town

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by EWU Athletic Media Relations

First there was David Fluellen from Toledo, then Timothy Flanders from Sam Houston State, Cody Kirk from Montana State and D.J. Adams from Portland State, followed by Zach Zenner and DaMarcus James in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

But the most prolific running back of them all – and a team that has won 11-straight road games -- awaits the Eastern Washington University football team this Saturday, Dec. 21, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.

Standing in the way of another appearance in the NCAA Division I Championship Game for the third-seeded and No. 3 ranked Eagles are the Towson Tigers, who feature FCS rushing and scoring leader Terrance West. Kickoff in the semifinal matchup between teams with Walter Payton Award finalists is 11:05 a.m. Pacific time in a game televised live by ESPNU.

Information on tickets for the game at “The Inferno” – where EWU is 24-3 all-time – is available at: http://goeags.com/ticket/13playoffs. The game will also be broadcast live on internet-based ESPN3, and fans may also listen live regionally on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espn.com.

Towson upset second-seeded and No. 2 ranked Eastern Illinois 49-39 on Dec. 13, the night before EWU advanced to the semis with a 35-24 win over Jacksonville State. The seventh-seeded and fifth-ranked Tigers were led by West, who rushed for a FCS playoff record 354 yards and five touchdowns in Towson’s 11th-consecutive win on the road. Of the top 10 FCS teams ranked nationally in rushing offense, Towson will be the fourth EWU has faced this season (No. 1 Cal Poly, No. 3 Portland State, No. 6 Sam Houston, No. 10 Towson).

“They are a physical football team on both sides of the ball,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who has coached the Eagles to victories in eight of their last nine postseason games. “They are well-coached and know how to handle big games and win on the road. They are a tremendous challenge for us.”

With 2,295 rushing yards for the season, West needs only 32 to break the NCAA FCS single season record of 2,326 yards set by Jamal Branch of Colgate in 2003. West has already broken the FCS single season record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 38, and his 39 touchdowns overall has tied the FCS record. The Tigers are now 12-2 and finished 6-2 in CAA Football.

“After watching him, he’s as good as any running back I’ve ever seen in my career here at Eastern,” Baldwin said.

It will be EWU’s first-ever meeting with Towson, and Towson’s first-ever meeting against a team from the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles are 2-0 against CAA Football, and are 12-2 this season with a 10-game winning streak.

“You just have to find ways to win,” said Baldwin, whose team has outscored its first two playoff opponents 41-6 in the second half. “It is nice that we’ll have plenty of stuff we can come back, coach and correct even after a win going to the Final Four. The bottom line is you are doing everything you can to win so you get to this position. I am proud of our players for that.”

This is EWU’s second-straight year of advancing to the “Final Four,” and third in the last four years for the 2010 NCAA champions. The semifinal winners advance to the NCAA Division I Championship Game on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. Pacific time at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Two-time defending champion North Dakota State hosts New Hampshire on Friday, Dec. 20,  in the other semifinal.

“That says a lot,” Baldwin said of making another trip to the semifinals, where EWU is 1-2 all-time (1997, 2010, 2012). “It is hard to do, and I am proud of everyone that is a part of it. To do something like that consistently you have to have a certain mindset, a certain attitude and a certain mentality. We have that in our locker room with our players, and it is exciting.”

Eastern enters this week’s game ranked fourth in FCS in total offense (530.1 per game) and sixth in scoring (40.1). Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams, who joins West as one of three finalists for the Payton Award given to the top player in FCS, is second in the nation in total offense (367.1 per game), with Big Sky record totals of 5,140 yards of offense (third in FCS history), 4,600 passing yards (fourth) and 53 touchdown passes (third). His passing efficiency rating of 185.7 leads the nation, ranks fourth all-time in FCS and is well ahead of EWU and Big Sky records.

Eastern has scored a Big Sky and school-record 561 points this season and has out-scored opponents by a 41-24 average score during its 10-game winning streak. Included is an incredible 141-17 advantage in the third quarter during the streak. The last loss for EWU was 49-34 at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28, and its other loss was 33-21 to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe Toledo.

Eastern has had seven playoff berths in a 10-year span (2004-13), ranking the Eagles as one of only four schools among 122 in FCS to accomplish that feat. The others are Montana, New Hampshire and Appalachian State. New Hampshire, North Dakota State and Appalachian State join the Eagles as the only teams to have qualified in four of the last five years. Eastern joins NDSU and Georgia Southern as the only schools who have advanced to the semifinals in three of the last four seasons.

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