Crowley, Orlando ignite Towson State

September 11, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Seniors Dan Crowley and Mark Orlando have tormented opposing defenses for the past two years, and they got their farewell seasons at Towson State off to a rousing start yesterday.

After a shaky first quarter in which the Tigers' offense bogged down, one of the top passing combinations in school history lighted the fuse that produced a season-opening, 32-16 victory over Buffalo before 2,144 at Minnegan Stadium.

Buffalo's defense held its own against a Towson State attack that returned only four starters from last year's record-setting unit. The Bulls (0-2) stuffed the run, holding the Tigers to only 61 yards. And they kept Towson State's defense on the field for most of the first half, while Buffalo used a pair of field goals by Mark Mozrall to take an early, 6-0 lead.

But the Bulls had no answer for Crowley and Orlando. Crowley erased a sloppy first quarter by shredding Buffalo's man-to-man coverage, completing 14 of 27 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. And Orlando abused the Buffalo secondary by recording a school-record 238 yards on nine receptions, including two touchdowns.

"They kept trying to play man coverage, eight yards deep. They can't do that," said Orlando, who also returned six punts for 96 yards.

"Me and Mark have been getting it together for four years," Crowley said. "For four years, I've known where he's going to be. Teams have been watching us on film all that time, and I don't think they can adjust to us this time."

The Bulls certainly didn't adjust yesterday. After forcing punts on Towson State's first four possessions and taking a 6-0 lead, they allowed the Tigers to even the score midway through the second period. The three-play, 78-yard drive ended when Crowley scrambled to his left, spotted Orlando running free behind cornerback Terrence Fisher down the left sideline, and hit him with a 48-yard touchdown pass.

On the Tigers' next possession, Crowley and Orlando hooked up for a 29-yard completion that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Brian McCarty. With 1:39 left in the half, Towson State held a 12-6 lead it never relinquished.

Crowley and Orlando teamed up for a 60-yard touchdown pass play in the opening minute of the second half to give the Tigers a 26-9 lead.

Orlando later caught two passes for 25 yards to set up the game's final score, a 1-yard run by Crowley that made it 32-16 with 8:38 left. Orlando's 13-yard reception in the closing minutes broke Marc Brown's 12-year-old record of 233 yards.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, they are on the same page," Towson State coach Gordy Combs said of Crowley and Orlando. "When the series is over, they are always talking."

Crowley and Orlando came in handy yesterday, with the Tigers unveiling a new offensive line and a two-back set that stumbled at times.

McCarty, playing for the first time since separating his shoulder last October, has been experiencing soreness in that shoulder for the past week. He managed 44 yards on 16 carries. And the offensive line, which protected Crowley like an iron shield last year, forced him to improvise more while running out of the

pocket. Crowley was sacked once, and was hit hard repeatedly after releasing his passes.

"I haven't been hit that hard since my freshman year," Crowley said. "But with so many new guys on offense, I went out there expecting to get hit today. That's part of football. We're not all on the same page yet. We hurt ourselves a lot with penalties. I messed up a few times. But we got rid of the jitters."

One area where the Tigers felt few jitters was on defense. They allowed just one touchdown and 269 yards, including only 65 yards rushing. The Tigers got fine efforts from middle linebacker Mike Arbutina (seven solo tackles, one sack), nose guard Dan Nate (six solos), free safety Don Zimmerman (five solos) and linebacker John Bardak (two sacks).

But no defensive player was better than sophomore cornerback Chad Scott, who made a big splash in his first start. Scott led all tacklers with 11 solos, intercepted two passes and broke up another pass.

Scott's first interception was especially important. After the Tigers had taken a 12-6 lead, he picked off quarterback Cliff Scott and returned it nine yards to the Buffalo 39. Two plays later, wide receiver Andrew Fields burned safety Everett Anthony down the middle, and Crowley led him perfectly to complete a 39-yard score.

Buffalo ....... 6 ... 3 .. 7 .. 0 .. -- .. 16

Towson State .. 0 .. 19 .. 7 .. 6 .. -- .. 32

NEXT FOR TOWSON

Who: Delaware State

When: Saturday, at Dover, Del.

Record: 1-1

:. Yesterday: Lost to Youngstown State, 23-3.

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