Towson routs Holy Cross in Patriot debut Corle runs for TD, Smith passes for 2 in 27-7 win

September 14, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

More than 2,000 fans showed up amid a festive atmosphere at Minnegan Stadium yesterday to witness Towson University's first venture into the world of Patriot League football, and they were treated to a near-perfect performance by the Tigers.

Riding a wave of emotion that had been building all summer, Towson tore through a stunned Holy Cross team, 27-7, to send a message to all the league coaches and many others who picked rTC the Tigers to finish last in the seven-team Patriot League.

"We can play in this league and we can be No. 1," said Towson senior linebacker Jim Colongo with a broad smile.

Colongo has been predicting since last summer a Towson championship in its first season in the Patriot League. It's just that not many people around Lehigh, Colgate, Bucknell, Fordham, Lafayette and Holy Cross have been listening.

Not even Towson coach Gordy Combs and his exuberant players could have expected such a dominant show in their league debut.

The Tigers (2-0, 1-0 league) walked over the Crusaders (0-1) to build a 27-0 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter and then gift-wrapped the only touchdown for Holy Cross in the fourth quarter.

A bad snap by freshman Mike Wilson on a punt attempt with 8: 10 left in the fourth quarter gave the Crusaders the ball on the Towson 7-yard line, and three plays later the visitors scored to break up the shutout Colongo wanted so badly.

"In my mind, the defense got a shutout," said Colongo. "But I believe we can play even better. I'd say we were at about 75 percent of our potential today. We were really pumped up for this game because of all the talk we've been hearing from the other Patriot League teams."

That "talk" mostly centered on Towson getting in over its head by entering the Patriot League.

Colongo showed yesterday why he was a preseason first-team All-Patriot League choice.

He overpowered Holy Cross blockers all day and ran past them for 10 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery. He also broke up two passes.

Colongo also ran for a two-point conversion after the second Towson touchdown. He lined up as an up back, took the snap from center and bulled his way into the end zone.

Khalid McLeod, a senior defensive back, also played a large part with eight tackles and one interception, and he broke up two passes.

And for the second straight week, the Towson offense was fired by junior left-handed quarterback Kevin Smith and sophomore tailback Jason Corle.

Smith is something of a Boomer Esiason look-alike. He throws left-handed, wears No. 7, runs and walks a little like the former Maryland and current NFL quarterback, and is never at a loss for words.

"They called me Boomer the last two years here," said Smith. "But really I wanted No. 3 because that's what Joe Montana wore at Notre Dame. Towson just gave me No. 7."

Smith put up impressive numbers for the second straight week, completing 12 of 17 for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Corle ran 31 times for 173 yards and one touchdown and avoided any bouts with leg cramps like he experienced last week in a 22-21 win over Monmouth. Despite those cramps that kept him out of half the Monmouth game, Corle ran for 102 yards on 18 carries.

Towson freshman wide receiver Adam Overbey and sophomore Mike Deal combined for six receptions for 105 yards.

Preseason favorite Lehigh was upset by Fordham, 42-35, in overtime yesterday, putting 1-0 Towson in second place in the Patriot League behind 2-0 Fordham.

Next for Towson

Opponent: Lehigh

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 0-1

Yesterday: Lost to Fordham in overtime, 42-35.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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