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Is Towson vs. Morgan State a real football rivalry in the making?

Schools are 5 miles apart in the Battle of Greater Baltimore

Everyone loves a good college sports rivalry. Bragging rights, reputations and trophies are on the line. At historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), rivalries between Howard and Hampton or Coppin State and Morgan State are legendary.

But have you heard about the Battle of Greater Baltimore? It pits Morgan against Towson University, a team not only outside of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) but also a predominantly white institution.

The only thing that truly makes it a rivalry is the proximity of the schools — Morgan and Towson are both in the Baltimore area and just about 5 miles apart. For Morgan students, the much-anticipated night game is a chance to tailgate, wear their freshest outfits and have something to brag about at the after-parties.

“It’s two schools representing the same city … the surrounding area has been waiting to see these two clash and go at it.”

But for Towson linebacker and Baltimore native Diondre Wallace, the long-standing matchup means much more.

“It’s two schools representing the same city. … The surrounding area has been waiting to see these two clash and go at it.”

Both schools have played each other 24 times in the past, with Towson dominating the series 18-6.

When the teams first met in 1979, the two programs were in very different places than they are today.

Morgan won the game 34-7 and went on to have an undefeated season. Towson struggled that year, transitioning to NCAA Division II football.

More recently, the tables have turned. Towson has sent a handful of players to the NFL, such as Terrance West, Ryan Delaire, Jordan Dangerfield and Tye Smith.

“This is what rivalry games are all about, and it doesn’t matter if it’s us or them. Every year, we’re raising the bar a little bit higher.”

Towson appeared in the FCS championship game in 2013, while Morgan has struggled to be competitive and has had only one winning season in the past seven years.

Even though the programs are in different places, Towson’s head football coach Rob Ambrose believes that helps make the game what it is.

“This is what rivalry games are all about, and it doesn’t matter if it’s us or them. Every year, we’re raising the bar a little bit higher.”

Last year, the game went in favor of Towson 10-0. Morgan had no spark from the offensive side of the ball. Towson completed the 2017 season with a 5-6 overall record and was 3-5 in Colonial Athletic Association play.

The schools won’t meet in 2019 because of Towson’s schedule, but they will play again in 2020 and 2021.

Ticket sales for the 7 p.m. game are another factor, especially if Towson doesn’t bring a large crowd with it to Morgan. However, Morgan coach Ernest Jones isn’t concerned.

“Our expectation is that we’re not counting on Towson to fill our stadium,” Jones said. “We’re gonna create a great game-day experience, and they better hope there is a seat to sit in.”

Junior DeAndre Harris, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound quarterback, is the full-time starter this season after splitting time with Elijah Staley last year. He completed 62 of 196 passes for 781 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

As Saturday’s game approaches, Towson and Morgan are not just battling for a title, they’re battling for the life of the series. If they don’t bring the fans or a good show, the Battle of Greater Baltimore might not last to create a real rivalry.

Other HBCU games this weekend

Isaiah George is a senior multimedia journalism major from Temple Hills, Maryland. He's a reporter for BearTV at Morgan and is a fan of all the major Washington, D.C., sports teams.