Freshman John Jenson kicked field goals of 27 and 40 yards and a stubborn Delaware State defense made them stand up for a 13-7 victory over Towson State last night at Minnegan Stadium.
Each side scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and Jenson put the Hornets ahead to stay with his first field goal on the last play of the half.
The first-quarter scoring drive was Towson State's only sustained one of the night. It moved the ball well on occasion, but its only other serious challenge ended in a fumble by Gary Worthington at the Delaware State 5.
The Hornets (2-1) all but wrapped this one up with a march that consumed seven minutes of the fourth quarter and ended with Jenson missing a 35-yard field goal try with 31 seconds left.
The Tigers had one final shot, as Worthington passed 32 yards to Mark Orlando, the receiver going up between two defenders at the Delaware State 38.
But a first-down pass was too high and on the game's final play LeRoy Thompson and Shawn McClain sacked Worthington.
For the second straight week, the Towson State defense more than held up its end of the game plan as it restricted Delaware State's Doug Reed to 106 yards on 19 carries -- including a 40-yard touchdown burst. A year ago when the Hornets totaled 518 rushing yards, Reed had 151 and three touchdowns.
In two games, the Tigers have given up 23 points. By comparison, they yielded 75 in their first two games last year. At that time, however, they had been stymied by injuries to at least a half-dozen starters.
"Any time you come in here and win, it's special," said Delaware State coach Bill Collick, who is now 4-3 against Towson State. "I have a lot of bad memories about this place. I thought we played we played well, and that drive at the end was the key."
Defensive tackle Thompson explained the difference between the Tigers getting 176 net yards rushing in the first half and only 23 in the secondk. "We tightened up our spacing and stabilized our line. We just did a much better job of containment."
Delaware State quarterback Erik Jones complimented the Towson State defense, admitting it had done a good job of shutting down the Hornets' sweeps and option plays. "When they did that, we were able to use (Michael) Murray on the back side."
Murray, a 5-foot-9, 225-pound fullback, ran 23 times for 140 yards, the only one of five Hornets ball carriers not to get hit for a loss.
"Size and good team speed are tough to defend," Towson State coach Phil Albert said. "They have it and I thought we did a good job against it."
Although Worthington has had to crucial fumbles in the Tigers' two games (at the opposition's 1 and 5), Albert was quick to defend his defensive star-turned quarterback.
"When we communicate things to him, he hearing them for the first time," Albert said. "Overall, I thought he executed well. He's better now than last week, and he should be at another level next week. We were able to add some things for this game, and we'll go over them and give him some for next week."
Senior linebackers James Dutton and Jared Freez combined for 22 tackles to highlight Towson State's defensive effort. "They have two big offensive players (tackle Greg Johnson, 6-2, 285, and guard Rod Milstead, 6-3, 275) that know how to block. We were just trying to turn things back to the inside," said Freeze, who himself is 6-4 and 220 pounds.