Rout unlikely to earn Towson bowl Tigers top Wagner, 35-11

Post probably will advance

November 17, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

On a day when Towson State's chances of extending its season probably died, the Tigers lived by the big play.

Long passes, long runs, long interception returns.

So long, Wagner.

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Smith passed for three touchdowns, including two to senior Amadi Eze, and the Tigers did their part to keep alive their playoff hopes with a 35-11 rout of Wagner at Minnegan Stadium in their final game before joining the Patriot League next season.

Unfortunately for Towson State (6-4), it didn't have the final say in determining its fate. Robert Morris defeated C.W. Post, 35-6, yesterday and likely secured a berth in this Saturday's ECAC-Intercollegiate Football Conference bowl game against Duquesne. The Tigers and Robert Morris both have one league loss, but the Colonials beat them, 7-0, on Sept. 21 and are 8-2 overall.

"We're the better football team at this point and time, there's no doubt," coach Gordy Combs said. "If you take the best team right now, we're the best football team.''

Eze caught scoring passes of 29 and 38 yards yesterday, the first coming on the final play of the opening half to give the Tigers a 28-3 lead.

L Towson State won despite running 32 fewer plays than Wagner.

"When you're playing seven- and eight-man fronts, you're giving something up," Combs said. "When you run, if you get a crack, you're going to make a big play. If you put a guy on an island in the secondary with our receivers and Kevin has enough time to make the throw, we'll make the big play."

Towson State, winner of four in a row, did more than bring down Wagner (5-5). A couple of school records also fell.

Junior linebacker Jim Colongo intercepted a pass on the Seahawks' 42 late in the first quarter and returned it a school-record 58 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 14-3 lead. It came three plays after Towson State junior George Perdikakis's field-goal attempt was blocked -- his sixth this season.

Colongo's return broke the record of 55 yards held by Don Zimmerman, now the Tigers' secondary coach.

"I almost got caught by a big lineman," said Colongo, who also forced a second-quarter fumble that was recovered by freshman Greg Crawford.

Towson State's Jason Corle came into the game needing 28 yards to break the school's freshman single-season rushing mark (611), and he got it in style, racing 84 yards for a touchdown that increased the lead to 21-3. He missed by 1 yard of tying the Towson State record for the longest run.

Until then, the Tigers had been unable to run the ball. Combs walked behind the Towson State bench in the second quarter and screamed at his offensive linemen, who sat on chairs on the stadium track. Corle (20 carries, 150 yards) scored on the first play of Towson State's next possession.

"I just told them to start playing. It's probably not fit for [print]," Combs said. "I thought we had to run right at them. We were running some counters and they were catching us on the back side. You run at speed, you don't run away from speed."

The Tigers' first two possessions had ended with turnovers, so they went for the big strike the next time they had the ball. On third down, Smith (8-for-22, 230 yards) stepped up in the pocket, found senior Shawn Ward breaking open at midfield and completed a pass that went 88 yards for a touchdown. That made Ward, who had beaten freshman cornerback Louis McMillan, the eighth Towson State player with 100 career receptions, and it put the Tigers ahead, 7-0.

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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