CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Illinois could not slow down Towson’s run game and in particular junior back Terrance West who rushed for an FCS playoff single game record 354 yards as the No. 7 seeded Tigers upset No. 2 seed EIU, 49-39.
Snow hit the ground early in Charleston and remained on the O’Brien Field playing surface throughout the FCS quarterfinal match-up that saw the two offenses combine for 1,098 total yards. Towson improved to 12-2 overall while EIU ended its season at 12-2. The Tigers will play the winner of the Jacksonville State / Eastern Washington game next weekend in the FCS semifinals.
EIU opened the game with a 14-0 first quarter lead and the Panthers looked like they were going to run away from another opponent this season. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Erik Lora for a 3-yard pass to cap the opening drive with a touchdown. Garoppolo ran in from six yards out with 7:18 left in the first quarter to put EIU up the fourteen points.
Towson made adjustments following the first quarter and relied on the run game. West scored on runs of 9 and 63 yards in the second quarter with a Connor Frazier 4-yard run sandwiched in between as Towson led 21-14 at the half.
The Tigers fumbled the opening kick off of the second half and Garoppolo capitalized with a one-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21-21.
West scored his third touchdown of the game to put the Tigers back in front as he finished with five rushing touchdowns on 39 carries. Towson finished with 472 yards rushing.
After West’s third touchdown, EIU had 28-yard field goal by Cameron Berra. EIU cut the lead to 35-32 to open the fourth quarter as Garoppolo connected with Jeff LePak for a 39-yard score. The Panthers converted the two-point conversion.
Towson added two more fourth quarter rushing scores one by Darius Victor and one by West.
Garoppolo passed for 321 yards while Lora ended his career with 18 catches for 129 yards.
Telvion Clark led Towson’s defense with 15 tackles. Robert Haynes had nine tackles to lead EIU.