Dismal first half costs Towson in 31-24 loss Holy Cross takes 21-0 lead

Smith throws for 361 yards

October 04, 1998|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WORCESTER, Mass. -- There were times, in yesterday's 31-24 loss to Holy Cross, the 4,150 gathered at Fitton Field saw the worst that Towson University's football team had to offer. There were other times that they saw the best.

It's because the bad outweighed the good, by a wide margin, especially in the first half, that the Tigers (3-2, 1-2) dropped a Patriot League contest that coach Gordy Combs felt was theirs for the taking.

"This was a game we should have won," Combs said angrily. "That's what irritates me. They are not better than us. But today, they proved they were better in the first half. That was the difference in the ballgame."

Holy Cross (2-2, 1-0) took a 21-0 lead into the intermission as Towson suffered one self-inflicted calamity after another.

Midway through the first quarter, quarterback Kevin Smith badly overthrew receiver Adam Overbey at the Holy Cross 45, and Tom Bestpitch intercepted. Six plays later, the Crusaders led 7-0.

After a near-interception by Holy Cross' Bryon Williams on the next possession, the Tigers failed to convert a fourth-and-one at the 50. Holy Cross failed to score, but came back to take a 14-0 lead after safety Joe Repshis blocked Mike Walck's punt on the Towson 13.

Perhaps the worst Tigers transgression came on the next series, when they had the ball on the Holy Cross 38. Setting up for lateral pass, Smith sailed the ball through Noah Read's hands. Read, who mistakenly thought the ball was dead, watched as linebacker Luke Sinkhorn pounced on it to give the Crusaders possession.

In the third quarter, Smith managed to find his game, and wound up with his sixth career 300-yard day (361 yards), as he completed 22 of 37 passes for three touchdowns after a 6-for-20 first half.

"The first half was probably the worst half of football I've played in my 14 years of playing football," said Smith, "and the second half was probably the greatest."

Unfortunately for the Tigers, one couldn't overcome the other.

Towson's league-leading rusher, Jason Corle, who ran for 232 yards in a 35-34 overtime victory against Fordham a week ago, was limited to just 38.

Smith directed Towson to its first score with 4: 53 left in the third quarter, culminating a six-play, 60-yard drive. The last 9 came on an improvised bootleg, when he rolled right, found no one open, then fired a strike to Mike Deal, who was alone in the left corner.

Towson closed within 21-14 when Smith hooked up with sophomore receiver Jabari Brown for a 31-yard score. It was Brown's first career reception.

After that, however, the best Towson could do was match points with the Crusaders.

"The receivers and I finally got on the same page," Smith said, "but by then it was too late."

Next for Towson

Opponent: Lafayette

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 0-4

Yesterday: Lost to Dartmouth, 13-10, in overtime.

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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