EASTON, Pa. -- Towson failed to get inside the Lafayette 25-yard line in dropping a 38-0 decision to the Leopards in a Patriot League game yesterday in the rain at Fisher Field.
It was the first shutout by Lafayette (2-6, 1-3) since defeating Bucknell, 47-0, on Nov. 9, 1985. The Leopards' only previous win this season was a 31-3 rout of Columbia. Towson's record slipped to 2-5 and 0-3.
Lafayette quarterback Mike Palos and freshman receiver John Rodriguez hooked up on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and running backs Nino DeMatteo and Eric McDay ran for touchdowns to complement field goals by Brian Menecola of 36, 26 and 32 yards.
But it was Lafayette's defense that made the big difference in the game. Strong safety Brian Tuma had two of the Leopards' four interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
The Lafayette front seven limited Towson tailback Jason Corle, who had rushed 217 yards last week against Robert Morris, to 16 yards on nine carries. Most of Towson's 255 yards of total offense came on the passing of junior quarterback Kevin Smith, who completed 21 of 46 for 211 yards. He was intercepted three times.
Early in the fourth quarter, Smith was shaken up and had to leave the game for one play. On that play, backup quarterback Joseph Lee threw a pass that was intercepted by Tuma and returned 30 yards for a touchdown that made the score 28-0.
"We weren't deceived coming into the game that [Lafayette] was a 1-6 football team," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "They controlled the ball on offense and gave us a lot of problems with their front seven on defense. We knew we would have a difficult time running the football against them."
Lafayette coach Bill Russo said he deployed his personnel according to what he thought the Tigers would do. "When they had a tight end and fullback in there, we played the run. When they had four receivers in there, we played our nickel defense. Our front seven did a good job stopping the run and that really helped us."
Towson .. 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Lafayette 3 7 11 17 -- 38
Next for Towson
Site: Jack Coffey Field, New York
When: Saturday, 12: 30 p.m.
Yesterday: Lost to Cornell, 45-13
Pub Date: 10/26/97