WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Noah Read rolled up 115 yards - the eighth straight game he's rushed for 100 or more - making up the bulk of Towson's offense in the Tigers' 12-0 triumph over Monmouth yesterday at Kessler Field.
Even though he sat out the fourth quarter with a left-hip pointer, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound junior tailback from Cumberland, Md., provided the firepower the Tigers (4-4) needed to stop Monmouth for a sixth consecutive year. Monmouth has never beaten Towson.
The Tigers' tough defense had a big role, too, handing Monmouth (3-5) its first shutout since its opening game of the 1996 season, 46 games ago, as 6-3, 228-pound senior defensive end Andrew Hollingsworth produced three sacks and boosted his NCAA Division I-AA All-America candidacy.
"He [Hollingsworth] is a warrior, a throwback," said Towson coach Gordie Combs. "Nothing stops him; nothing. He's had a strained left wrist and a complete dislocation of his right pinkie this year. He just keeps going."
Read, who raised his season-yardage total to 1,101 - becoming the seventh 1,000-yard man in Towson history - is pretty resilient, too.
"I took a helmet in my right hip early in the first quarter," he said. "I stayed in there as long as I could."
Just under seven minutes into the opening quarter, Towson junior linebacker Jude Catlin blocked Monmouth punter Darrell Nick's third kick of the game and senior defensive back Donald Wood grabbed the loose ball in the end zone for the Tigers' first touchdown.
Chris Mandell's 42-yard field-goal attempt was barely wide left in Monmouth's only serious scoring opportunity of the first half. Towson junior kicker Ed Kulic's 27--yard attempt on the final play of the half was partially blocked.
Junior linebacker Sean Hendricks forced the big Towson break of the third quarter, sacking Monmouth quarterback Bill Rankin and recovering at the Hawks' 27. Five straight carries by Read - the longest for 16 yards to the Monmouth 7 - set the stage for Kulic's sixth field goal of the season, a 22-yarder.
Sophomore defensive back Edmund Carazo blocked another Nick punt early in the fourth period and the ball rolled past the end line for a safety and 12-0 margin.
Monmouth's defense played with intensity, also, limiting Towson junior quarterback Val Troiani to eight completions for 38 yards, but the Hawks' offense fell far short. Tailback Matt Merklinger, who'd carried for 587 yards and nine TDs this season, was limited to 10 carries for 34 yards.
"We never had the consistency to keep the chains going," said Monmouth's Kevin Callahan, whose Northeast Conference team had possession of the ball for just 20 minutes and 50 seconds.
"Sure, it's frustrating [remaining winless against Towson], but we did do some positive things. We're smaller than anybody we play all year, but our defensive unit was outstanding."
The Tigers continue their break from Patriot League action, flying west to meet St. Mary's in Moraga, Calif., Saturday, then will close out their home season against league opponent Bucknell on Nov. 11.
Towson 7 0 3 2 - 12
Monmouth 0 0 0 0 - 0
Next for Towson
Opponent: St. Mary's (Calif.)
Site: Moraga, Calif.
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Yesterday: Lost to Southern Utah, 43-14.