Colgate still too much for Towson, 35-14 Tigers rally in 3rd quarter but fall short for 3rd time

September 20, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Yesterday, Towson coach Gordy Combs wanted to see evidence of strides his team had made since last year. Colgate quarterback Matt Policare hoped not to mess anything up while subbing for the regular, Ryan Vena.

The two saw the simple wishes granted before 2,012 at Minnegan Stadium during a 35-14 Colgate victory in the Patriot League opener.

Policare, thrust into the starting role when Vena separated a shoulder against Connecticut, did fine, completing 10 of 17 passes for 160 yards and leading a 470-yard total offensive effort that included 246 yards rushing and 25 first downs.

Meanwhile, Combs saw his team claw into contention in the second half, a campaign that ended when Colgate's Lydelle King barreled into the end zone from three yards out for the final score with 6: 15 left in the game. This was unlike either of the previous games against Colgate, when the Tigers stumbled well before halftime.

"We've made great strides," Combs said. "This game was 28-14 in the fourth quarter. It wasn't that way in the previous two seasons. Our kids never quit."

Down 21 points at halftime, Towson (2-1 overall, 0-1 Patriot League) displayed spunk it hadn't shown Colgate (1-1, 1-0) in the past. First, Kevyn Dodson ran for a 29-yard touchdown on a fake punt that came on fourth-and-18, making the score 21-7 with 10: 37 left in the third quarter.

Colgate responded with football's equivalent of Chinese water torture, a 12-play, 95-yard drive that ended with fullback Tim Lavoie's 16-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-7.

With the opportunity to bow, Towson didn't, instead completing its slickest drive of the day, with Kevin Smith (17 of 32, 186 yards) completing four passes to three receivers, including a 5-yard toss to Mike Deal that made the score 28-14 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.

"Ninety percent of the time," Combs said, "we responded well to the situations we had."

After losses of 35-10 against Colgate in 1996 and 34-3 in 1997, Combs had used the term "measuring stick" in referring to the Red Raiders, favored to defend their conference crown. If Towson could compete with Colgate, it could compete with anyone.

Meanwhile, Colgate came into the game like an animal backed into a corner. Having lost 45-35 to Connecticut in the season opener, and with Vena out, the Red Raiders seemed vulnerable.

But Vena isn't the only reason why Colgate got to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs last year, and Policare made sure that he availed himself of his supporting cast.

"I didn't want to put any pressure on myself," Policare said, noting his main receiver, Corey Hill, an all-conference selection the past two years, and his main running back, Randall Joseph, who ran for 106 yards in the first game. "I just let them do all the work."

Sure enough, Policare used both Hill and Joseph on the first drive, hitting Hill for 28 yards to set up a 5-yard run by Joseph, making the score 7-0 with 9: 33 left.

A 30-yard pass by Colgate punter Erich Kutschke saved a drive, then a 28-yard flea-flicker by Hill to R.J. Gregory ended it, making the score 14-0 with 2: 27 left in the first quarter. Returner Jesse Boyd made the game-winning score, taking a Mike Walck punt 71 yards for the score, giving Colgate a 21-0 lead with 6: 15 left in the first half.

On the other end, Colgate's defense successfully corraled Towson running back Jason Corle, who managed 42 yards on 18 carries, despite bobs and weaves aplenty. "If there's nothing in front of you," Corle said, "you can't just charge into the back of your line. You have to make people miss."

Other than that, Combs was happy with the effort. "We're not over the hump by any means, but we'll get better," Combs said. "We hung in there today."

Next for Towson

Opponent: Fordham

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 1-1

Yesterday: Beat Bucknell, 20-17.

Pub date 9/20/98

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