Bulldogs Nearly Pull Off Upset in Season Opener
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel rallied from a double-digit deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter before falling, 28-21, to No. 11 Towson in the 2019 season opener Saturday afternoon at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Score: No. 11 Towson 28, The Citadel 21
Records: Towson (1-0), The Citadel (0-1
Location: Johnson Hagood Stadium (Charleston, South Carolina)
Series: Towson leads 2-0
How it Happened
· Towson jumped out the early lead after Shane Simpson hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from Tom Flacco with just under 10 minutes to play in the first quarter.
· The Bulldogs put together a 16-play drive late in the quarter that reached deep in Towson territory. A penalty nullified a touchdown, then the field goal missed wide left.
· The lead grew to 10-0 early in the second quarter on an Aidan O’Neill 40-yard field goal.
· The Citadel found the end zone early in the second quarter as Brandon Rainey broke off a 55-yard run and capped the six-play drive with a three-yard touchdown.
· Simpson found the end zone a second time a short time later as he scored form 45-yards out.
· The rest of the first half belonged the Bulldogs’ offense as Rainey engineered a 19-play drive that covered 88 yards and ate up 8:31 seconds off the clock.
· The drive ended with Emeka Nwanze fighting his way in from one-yard out. The touchdown was the first for the redshirt freshman.
· The third quarter belonged to both defenses as the two teams combined for just 98 yards and no points.
· Towson extended its lead to six with a 25-yard field goal from O’Neill with 12:43 to play.
· The Citadel then went on one of its patented drives as the Bulldogs used 18 plays to cover 75 yards and eat up 9:12 off the clock.
· The drive ended when Rainey rolled right and found Raleigh Webb in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown.
· Towson responded quickly and used a big play to set up a Simpson four-yard run with just over a minute to play.
Inside the Numbers
· The Bulldogs offense rushed for 329 yards on 70 rushing attempts.
· It marks the second time in the last three seasons the Bulldogs have rushed for over 300 yards in the season opener.
· Quarterback Brandon Rainey carried a career-high 32 times, rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown.
· Rainey’s previous career-high was 31 rushes against Western Carolina in 2018.
· The contest marked the fourth 100-yard performance in Rainey’s career. He rushed for over 100 yards twice last season and ran for 125 yards as a B-Back in 2017.
· The 100-yard performance by Rainey gave The Citadel a 100-yard rusher in six-straight season openers.
· Rainey also went 3-for-4 for 24 yards and a touchdown.
· Clay Harris ran for 43 yards on 12 carries, while fellow B-Back Emeka Nwanze rush for 22 yards and his first career touchdown.
· Punter Matt Campbell picked up right where he left off last season, averaging 49.0 yards on two punts. He had a long of 52 and both of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
· Chris Beverly led the defense with seven tackles and a key forced fumble at the goal line.
· Phil Barrett added six tackles and a pass break-up.
· Aaron Brawley recorded two tackles-for-loss and forced a fumble.
· True freshman Jay Girdner had a pair of pass break-ups, including a big hit to break up a pass on third down.
· The Bulldogs possessed the ball for 38:11, including 11:47 in the second quarter.
· The Citadel was 13-for-17 on third-down conversions and 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions.
The Bulldogs hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to face No. 21 Elon on Sept. 7. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.