HAMILTON, N.Y. -- There were different expectations. And it was a different game, too.
But in the end, with a possible NCAA Division I-AA playoff berth at stake, it was the same old story when the Towson football team visited Colgate yesterday and left with a 38-14 loss at Andy Kerr Stadium. It was the fourth blowout loss to the Red Raiders in four meetings between the teams.
While playing itself within one win of a Patriot League co-championship this season, Towson, which finished its season at 7-4, 4-2, had proved a worthy peer of the six other members.
It's still unequal to one of them, as Colgate reminded the 4,224 spectators, passing the last real test before a game against 2-7 Holy Cross next week. A victory would give the Red Raiders (9-1, 5-1) their second league title in three seasons.
After Towson played the Red Raiders close for two quarters and kept the score close for three, Colgate took control. The Red Raiders ran when they wanted to. They prevented Towson from running at all and blitzed Joe Lee into less-than-usual effectiveness.
Instead of a game to keep track of Lee's passing statistics -- 34 of 65 passing, 350 yards and three interceptions -- Colgate turned it into one dominated by its running game, which chewed up 318 yards at 5 yards a carry.
Towson coach Gordy Combs knew what Colgate might be able to do to his team. "They have very good run blocking. That's Dick Biddle's way," Combs said of the Colgate coach. "He's not going to change. He's going to run the football at you."
From Randall Joseph's 59-yard touchdown run on his team's second play on the way to a 25-carry, 169-yard day, to the less-fleet feet of Tim Lavoie and Lydelle King, the Tigers couldn't do much about it. Nor could Towson concoct a similar recipe, running 15 times for minus-38 yards.
Yes, the Tigers were in the game until the fourth quarter, when Colgate got two touchdown runs by quarterback Ryan Vena. Those scores made the score into a near-duplicate of three blowouts Towson wanted to avenge.
"It's 24-14 and we're going in to score," Combs said of his team's drive deep into Colgate territory. Twenty-six yards from the end zone beginning the fourth quarter, Combs planned for an Ed Kulic field goal to score the Tigers' first points since the second quarter.
But Colgate strong safety Tom Carroll forced Lee to fumble, and John Constantino recovered, giving the Red Raiders possession.
The Tigers got the ball back, but a Phil Bowman interception set up the first of Vena's touchdowns, putting the game away at 31-14 with 7: 39 left to go and ending Biddle's anxieties.
"The only nerve-racking thing for me was that they were always in striking distance," said Biddle.
Balanced by a 2-yard touchdown run from tailback Jason Corle in the first half after falling in a 12-0 hole, Towson trailed 18-7 at the end of the first quarter, a deficit it cut with a 6-yard Lee pass to a diving Jamal White with 13: 51 left in the second quarter.
The Red Raiders answered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with the second of Joseph's touchdown runs, making it 24-14 with 23 seconds left in the half.
"We just didn't come out ready to play," said Corle, who had 11 catches for 105 yards on his final game for the Tigers and became the school's all-time leader in pass receptions with 188.
The postseason hopes that Towson carried into the game were new for a program that hadn't had a winning season in three years, lending a sense of accomplishment.
"This was our goal," said Lee, who became the seventh I-AA quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards. "We're just so happy that we got here. In the grand scheme of things, we made big strides."