A preview of ‘The Battle for Greater Baltimore’: Morgan State vs. Towson University

by Ty'Rique Sims, Assistant Sports Editor

The Morgan State Bears and the Towson University Tigers will renew their rivalry Saturday Sept. 2 in what is being called ‘The Battle for Greater Baltimore.’

The two Baltimore area programs announced in a press conference July 6 that a home-to-home series will be played this year and in 2018.

Present at the mid-summer presser were Towson’s Director of Athletics Tim Leonard and head Coach Rob Ambrose and Morgan’s Director of Athletics Edward Scott and head Coach Fred T. Farrier. Leonard and Scott expressed that they are working to extend the series through 2020.

Only five miles separate the two campuses and this year’s contest will mark the 24th meeting in the series between the two university football programs that began with a 34-7 Morgan State win on September 1, 1979 at Towson. The Tigers hold a 17-6 advantage in the all-time and will be playing Morgan for the first time since 2011.

In 2016, both teams finished below a .500 record. The Bears finished 3-8 overall (3-5 MEAC) and the Tigers finished 4-7 (3-5 CAA).

MORGAN STATE

Head Coach Fred T. Farrier is entering his first full season at the helm. Farrier spent the 2016 season as the Bears interim head coach. Under former head coach Lee Hull, Farrier served as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Morgan will rely on redshirt senior running back Herb Walker Jr. The Cleveland native set the school’s single-game and single season rushing records during his sophomore campaign.

In 2016, Walker’s season was shortened when he suffered a broken bone in his foot in the season opener against Holy Cross. Morgan will need Walker to stay healthy and continue to prove why he’s eighth on the school’s all-time rushing list.

The Bears will lean on its transfer signal-caller Elijah Staley to lead the team. Staley is a 6’7 transfer redshirt junior, who spent his 2016 season at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 373 yards, including 5 TDs. Staley was a four-star QB prospect by ESPN.com out of high school then eventually signing with Mississippi State, where he played in a total of two games during his redshirt freshman year. In those two games, he rushed for 18 yards and was 3 for 5 passing with 1 touchdown. Staley’s size and experience will go long way when the Bears head into MEAC play.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY

Ambrose is entering his eighth season as the Tigers head man. He led the Tigers to four winning seasons, two CAA championships, two playoff appearances and a trip to the 2013 FCS National Championship game. Ambrose has his work cut out for him entering the 2017 season. Towson’s offense returns three receivers who combined for 29 catches last season. The leading returner is junior Sam Gallahan. Gallahan caught 22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in 2016.

Throwing these guys, the ball will be junior quarterback Morgan Mahalak. The Oregon transfer came back from injury to lead the Tigers to victories in each of the last three games of the season. The Tigers defense is the most stable as they return six players who saw the field a year ago.

On paper, Morgan and Towson seem evenly matched but of course, the game will not be played on paper. This game will not just be another game added to each team’s respective schedules, it will symbolize a growing conversation.

In recent years, students from each institution have traded words about which school is historically better (Morgan being an historically black university and Towson being a public white institution). Although tension have risen from these war of words, ‘The Battle for Greater Baltimore’ series is a way to come together and prove that the greater Baltimore community is one.

Kick off at 6 p.m. from Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium. The game will also be televised on ESPN3.

Blair Young, Sports Editor, contributed to this story.

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