Towson gave up 31 straight points to Eastern Washington, and looked out of the game with more than a minute left -- the Eagles had the ball and the lead. The Tiger defense held stout, stopping the Eagles when they needed to and allowing Connor Frazier to pull up a dramatic last-minute drive capped by a quarterback sneak to take the win, 35-31.
The Tigers will face two-time defending champion North Dakota State on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas. This will be the first ever title appearance for Towson, and the third for the Bison.
The winning play:
The Tigers got off to a hot start, scoring three straight touchdowns to open up a roaring lead over the favored Eagles. The first two Towson touchdowns were one-yarders, as Peter Athens found Emmanuel Holder for a short score and powerhouse back Terrance West ran in for a quick touchdown. At the start of the second quarter, Athens connected with Brian Dowling for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 21-0.
From there, the Eagles went on an extraordinary run of their own. Vernon Adams found Quincy Forte for an eight-yard score to make it 21-7 before the half, and Forte ran for a touchdown on the other side of the break to bring Eastern Washington within a score. Kevin Miller's 22-yard field goal cut the deficit to four, and Mario Brown's three-yard score gave the Eagles their first lead of the game. At the start of the fourth, Adams connected with Cory Mitchell in the back of the end zone, and the 13-yard touchdown made it 31 straight points and a 31-21 lead for Eastern Washington.
Towson found itself at the goal line trailing by 10 with over five minutes to play, and the Eagles made two stops to force third-and-goal from three yards out. West took the ball to the left side, got wrapped up by multiple defenders, but managed to break his way free and pummel his way into the end zone for a touchdown. The Tigers attempted an onside kick, but the Eagles recovered with more than four minutes left.
Eastern Washington did not convert on a fourth-and-short attempt with around a minute and a half left, giving Towson one last chance to win it. The Tigers quickly drove to the goal line with less than 30 seconds left, and quarterback Connor Frazier was just barely tackled at the one-yard line, setting up second-and-goal with 25 seconds to go. West was stuffed on the next play, but Frazier dove in on the following one to take the lead.
On Eastern Washington's first play of its ensuing possession, Towson intercepted Vernon Adams' pass, giving the Tigers the win.
Box Score Hero: Terrance West. The Towson running back had 27 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
But Did They Cover? Eastern Washington was a four-point favorite, so no.