Towson runs into brick wall, is stopped by R. Morris, 7-0 Tigers have their chances, but can't take advantage

September 22, 1996|By Phil Axelrod | Phil Axelrod,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PITTSBURGH -- Towson State's Tigers kept attacking. And Robert Morris kept stopping them.

Robert Morris' defense stated its case with three goal-line stands in the first half yesterday and the offense managed one big play in the second half as the Colonials defeated Towson State, 7-0, before 3,756 at Moon High Stadium.

Robert Morris (3-0) produced a school-record third consecutive shutout, withstanding a 336-yard passing performance by Kevin Smith. The sophomore left-hander completed 20 of 40 passes and was intercepted twice.

Smith threw two dropped passes that could have been touchdowns -- the ball slipped through the hands of Amadi Eze in the end zone on a fourth-down 4-yarder in the first half, and Eric Beach dropped a perfectly thrown pass while on the run at the Robert Morris 5 with a minute to play.

"When you make mistakes like that in a loss like this, they're magnified," said Towson State coach Gordy Combs, whose Tigers are 1-2 after losing their second straight.

"We didn't make the plays when we had to make them."

Robert Morris' offense struggled because quarterback Joe DeMaria was making his first start, replacing three-year starter Jake Newman, out with a sprained ankle. Blitzed on almost every down, DeMaria completed six of 20 passes for 109 yards.

But DeMaria did manage to complete a floating 45-yarder to DeLonte Perkins to set up the game's only touchdown, which came on Tai Alli's 3-yard run in the third quarter.

Perkins outmaneuvered a defender to pull down the high-arcing pass at the Towson State 6. Two plays later, Alli scored.

Towson State was stopped on four runs from the Robert Morris 3 early in the second quarter and, later in the period, Dane Payne intercepted Smith's pass in the end zone on a first-down play from the 6-yard line.

"We had our opportunities," Combs said. "We didn't capitalize."

Smith was sacked five times for minus-39 yards and the Tigers were limited to minus-3 yards rushing on 31 carries.

"They're on a roll, and they believe in themselves," Combs said of the Robert Morris defense under the guidance of Dan Radakovich, who spent 19 seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL.

"They know what they want to do, and they have the confidence to do it. We don't have that confidence right now."

Next for Towson

Opponent: Dayton

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 3-0

Yesterday: Beat Wisconsin-Platteville, 49-27.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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