Towson tops UNH in shootout
Kevin Decker threw for a touchdown, rushed for two more and accumulated 389 passing yards, but the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire football team was outscored 56-42 by 12th-ranked Towson University in a CAA football shootout Saturday afternoon at Unitas Stadium.
Towson, which defeated UNH for the first time in eight all-time meetings, upped its record to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the CAA, tied for first place in the league with Maine. The Wildcats, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped, fell to 7-3, 5-2 in the CAA.
Decker completed 36 of 43 passes for 389 yards with a TD and three interceptions. He added a team-leading 75 rushing yards and two scores on 12 attempts.
Towson freshman running back Terrance West gashed his way to a career-high 261 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries to lead a potent Tigers' attack that racked up 517 yards of total offense.
New Hampshire outgained Towson with a season-high 611 yards, but committed four turnovers in the contest.
Matt Evans amassed a game-high 19 tackles to lead UNH, moving into third place on the school's all-time, single-season list with 142 stops, 14 tackles behind his 2010 total, which is the second-most in university history.
UNH scored on its initial drive, chalking up 84 yards on nine plays before Dontra Peters (nine rushes, 32 yards, TD/two catches, five yards) carried in for a six-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 11:22 left in the first quarter. Decker was 5 of 5 for 59 yards through the air on the drive, highlighted by a 37-yard completion to Justin Mello (four catches, 51 yards, TD) deep down the right sideline to the Tigers' 12.
Towson immediately responded with a 73-yard TD run from West with 9:48 left in the first to tie the game, 7-7. West became the first back to gain 70-plus yards from scrimmage against the Wildcats since Tim Hightower's 72-yard scamper for Richmond on Sept. 22, 2006.
The Wildcats advanced into Tigers' territory on their second drive before Decker was stuffed for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the Towson 43. On the first play of the subsequent drive, Grant Enders connected with tight end James Oboh, who bounced off a hit along the right sideline and raced to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Tigers' lead with 7:45 left in the quarter.
That lead ballooned to 21-7 courtesy of a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Tye Smith, who snared Decker's pass to the left flat and dashed untouched for the score with 6:54 left in the opening stanza.
Decker pieced together his second 5-for-5 passing drive, accounting for 32 of the 51 yards on a possession that culminated in a five-yard TD strike to Mello that trimmed Towson's advantage to 21-14 with 2:37 remaining in opening stanza. Decker, who had to slither out of danger in the backfield on 3rd-and-3 from the 5, lofted his 17th touchdown pass of the year to Mello in the back right-hand corner of the end zone.
West notched his second rushing TD of the day, forging his way in from two yards out to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive that lifted Towson's lead to 28-14 with 13:13 left in the half.
Enders and Oboh hooked up for their second TD pass-and-catch combination of the contest, this time an 11-yard connection, with 9:38 left in the half to expand the lead to 35-14.
Back came the ‘Cats, with Decker orchestrating a six-play, 38-yard drive, completing back-to-back passes to tight end Sean Cullen (five catches, 95 yards) for 17 and 22 yards, respectively, in the middle of the field to advance to Towson's 13. Chris Chandler was on the receiving end of a 12-yard pass to the 1, and
Decker called his own number on 2nd-and-goal to slice the deficit to 35-21 with 6:51 left in the half.
The Tigers bumped their lead back to three scores when West rambled 69 yards for his third TD of the game for a 42-21 lead with 5:23 left in the half.
Chris Setian put a ribbon on an eight-play, 85-yard drive with his third rushing TD of the year, a four-yard carry with 2:25 left in the second quarter to bring UNH within 42-28 at the intermission.
The halftime break failed to slow down the home team, evidenced by Derrick Joseph's 93-yard kickoff return for a TD on the opening play of the third quarter for a 49-28 lead.
Decker retaliated with his second rushing TD of the game, drawing UNH within 49-35 with 11:39 left in the third period.
West tallied his fourth rushing score of the game, and nation-leading 25th of the season, on a two-yard carry with 6:21 left in the third to make it 56-35.
Nico Steriti provided the final points of the wild night with a three-yard touchdown scamper with 5:04 left in the game.
The Wildcats wrap up the regular season on Senior Day at Cowell Stadium against arch-rival Maine
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