HARRISONBURG — The behemoth in Fargo venturing east would normally help create the must-see meeting of the weekend for fans in the Colonial Athletic Association.
But the conference game featuring two top-10 squads cannot be missed.
“It’s one of the best football teams I’ve seen on film in a long time,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said of Maine.
Ambrose’s No. 8 Tigers (2-0) travel to Alfond Stadium to face the No. 7 Black Bears (1-1) for a 7 p.m. kickoff this Saturday. The league’s coaches picked Towson to finish second and Maine to finish third this fall behind preseason favorite James Madison. Maine won the league last year en route to the FCS national semifinals while Towson reached the postseason for the first time since 2013.
“I think [Ambrose] said it best last year,” Maine coach Nick Charlton said, “to think those two teams would be in the position that we were at the end of 2018, there wasn’t a lot of people that thought that.
“And now, it’s a pretty hyped game and we’re excited. It’s a night game, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be about execution and it’s going to be about playing really good football. I think both teams will be up to the challenge, so it’ll be really exciting.”
The two programs have seasoned quarterbacks to run their respective offenses as Maine signal-caller Chris Ferguson is a three-year starter and Towson’s Tom Flacco is the reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Both Ferguson and Flacco have thrown for four scores this season.
“I think [Flacco’s] ability to throw the football is a little underestimated,” Charlton said, “if there is such a thing for a Player of the Year. He can throw it well and he’s able to make a lot of plays with his feet, so we’ve got to be good staying in coverage and being in our rush lanes.”
While the defenses for Maine and Towson try to deal with each other’s quarterbacks, No. 18 Delaware (2-0) is tasked with slowing Trey Lance, the non-freshman-looking freshman quarterback for No. 1 North Dakota State (2-0) as the Blue Hens host the defending national champion Bison at 1 p.m.
Lance has accounted for 10 touchdowns in two weeks while filling the void former North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick left behind.
“I’ve been impressed with how [Lance] delivers the ball,” Delaware coach Danny Rocco said. “He’s tall and the ball comes out quickly. The ball comes out high above the defensive line. He throws accurate passes, throws a good spiral and has a good sense of where the ball needs to go, so there’s lot of things that I would recognize here at first glance that would lead me to believe that they’ve got another one there.”
North Dakota State’s trip to Delaware is the return part of a home-and-home series that began last season when the Bison knocked off Delaware 38-10 at the Fargo Dome.
“We’re creating a really nice atmosphere here,” Rocco said. “And a big part of that is the fan base, support and energy they can bring into the stadium, so we’re looking forward to a very active and a very engaging crowd and we’re certainly looking forward to the competition. Having been up there twice, I recognize what the standard is and am looking forward to seeing what this place can feel like here on Saturday.”
All Involved For Villanova O
Villanova is having no problem getting contributions from across its offense.
“It’s good to spread wealth,” third-year Wildcats coach Mark Ferrante said.
Over two wins in two tries, Villanova’s eight offensive touchdowns have come from eight different players.
Quarterback Daniel Smith, a Campbell transfer, has connected with six different receivers — Dez Boykin, Changa Hodge, Jaaron Hayek, Jalen Jackson, Andrew Perez and Todd Summers — for six scores. Both Smith and running back Justin Covington have scored rushing touchdowns.
RB Duo Gives Albany Hope
Albany has to hope this past Saturday was just the start for running backs Alex James and Karl Mofor.
James, a Coastal Carolina transfer, rushed 229 yards and a touchdown while Mofor ran for 123 yards in the Great Danes’ non-conference win over Bryant.
“Karl is a physical, punishing runner,” Albany coach Greg Gattuso said. “And Alex has got a little more slasher in him and has got a little more shake.”
James’ 80-yard run for a touchdown in the opening quarter set Albany in the right direction, according to Gattuso.
“We were expecting a good game out of him,” Gattuso said. “And that’s why we wanted to get him in the game early. He practiced really well and he was coming off an injury the week before so we couldn’t utilize as much as we’d like, but he gave us a big spark.”