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Towson RB West Carries Team Deep Into Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs

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TOWSON, Md. (AP) — Terrance West started his Towson football career as a walk-on who regularly left home at 3 a.m. to catch two buses and make pre-dawn practices on time.

He’s come a long way since then.

West set an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff record with 354 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns last Friday as Towson beat Eastern Illinois 49-39 in the national quarterfinals. He leads all of college football with 2,295 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns, numbers he hopes to increase Saturday in the semifinals against host Eastern Washington.

The Tigers (12-2) lean heavily on the junior running back, who vividly remembers the sacrifices he made to attend the school’s 5 a.m. practices in 2011.

“I put in a lot of work at my craft,” West said this week. “If you dedicate yourself and be determined or have a determined mindset, you can accomplish anything. I’m living what I work hard for.”

The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder came from Northwestern High School in Baltimore followed by a year at Fork Union Military Academy.

Towson coach Rob Ambrose gave West the chance to join the team, and the running back’s work ethic immediately caught the coach’s eye.

“At 4 o’clock in the morning in the month of March, when it’s really cold, there aren’t many human beings in this town that are awake,” Ambrose said. “And when I’m coming in here in the morning to unlock the building, he’s waiting for me. Yeah, that’s a competitive soul. That’s somebody that wants it.”

West quickly took off at Towson. In his first season, he won the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football. West has been a three-time All-Colonial Athletic Association first-teamer and recently was voted the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. He also was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award this season.

West has scored 83 touchdowns at Towson and is closing in on the FCS record of 89, set by Brian Westbrook at Villanova. West’s 39 touchdowns this year tied the NCAA FCS record that Omar Cuff set at Delaware (2007).

West has been fortunate to run behind an experienced offensive line that includes seniors Eric Pike, Anthony Davis, Doug Shaw and Randall Harris. Both West and Ambrose give the veteran line much of the credit for the running back’s success.

“As good as Terrance is, nothing happens without that offensive line,” the coach said.

That line is also is a big reason why quarterback Peter Athens (3,050 yards passing, 17 touchdowns) has fared well. Towson has scored 543 points in its 14 games, and now stands one win away from a national championship game appearance on Jan. 4.

Athens has fared well, but this offense is built around West.

“He makes it a lot easier,” Athens said. “He’ll break off a big run, and it will change momentum just like that.”

West eventually got a scholarship after his freshman year, but that didn’t alter his drive to succeed.

“I just worked hard and stayed focused,” West said. “I had to prove everyone wrong.”

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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