A yard short, Towson drops 4th straight

0 completions, 5 1st downs, Monmouth still wins, 24-17

October 28, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The downward slide that has taken over the Towson University football season continued on unmercifully yesterday at Minnegan Stadium.

Untimely mistakes and a lack of production in the red zone overshadowed a strong defensive showing as the Tigers lost their fourth straight, this time by a 24-17 count against visiting Monmouth on Homecoming Day.

It's Towson's first loss against the Hawks (6-1) in seven games and assures the Tigers (2-6) of their first losing season since 1998, when they finished with a 5-6 mark.

Towson coach Gordy Combs took a look at the final statistics and shrugged. His Tigers had a 384-119 advantage in total yards and a 25-5 edge in first downs. Monmouth didn't complete one pass all afternoon, but he still found himself trying to explain another difficult setback.

"It's very frustrating because as a football team we come in and I haven't seen any flaws in the mental preparation of our players, watching films, practicing - every day they come and practice hard," Combs said. "It's just amazing to me and frustrating to me because I think we try to correct the things and as the head coach it's my responsibility. We know what the problem is, it's solving the problem and it's not one guy."

Despite four turnovers that resulted in 21 Monmouth points, three missed field goals by Ed Kulic (who had missed two all season and was perfect from inside the 45) and six penalties, the Tigers still came away 1 yard short of possibly tying the game on the last play.

At the Monmouth 9 with four seconds left, Towson quarterback Val Troiani threw underneath to senior tailback Noah Read, who was brought down by free safety Aaron Edwards at the 1 as time expired. The Tigers started the final drive at their own 38 with 23 seconds left and no timeouts, but for the sixth time in seven tries, couldn't find the end zone.

"Frustrating," said Read, who finished with 177 yards on 35 carries and added five catches for 43 yards. "We ran a play we haven't run all year, so it was a perfect time to bring it out. A yard short, I thought I was in the end zone but came up a little short. We tried our hardest."

The Tigers lost the game with another frustrating first half.

They had five possessions in the first quarter with their worst starting point their own 43, but they couldn't muster any points.

At the start of the second quarter, the Hawks scored 14 points without running an offensive play - a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown by Aaron Edwards was followed by an 11-yard fumble recovery for a score by linebacker Dan Blazosky on a sack of Towson's starting quarterback Jay Amer.

When kicker Ryan Peterson connected on a 39-yard field goal with 5:27 left until the half, the Hawks had 17 points to go with 17 yards.

"I'm not going to say the game went exactly how I thought it would go, but it wasn't too far off. We knew we were going to be conservative on offense and it was a game we thought we could win," Monmouth coach Kevin Callahan said. "If you play good defense and execute well on special teams, you got a chance in any game. When you look at the final stats in terms of number of plays and total yards and things like that, that proves that point."

Davon Telp intercepted a Bill Rankin pass and went 95 yards for a Towson record to bring the Tigers back to 17-7 late in the second quarter.

Monmouth appeared to put the game away when Matt Merklinger ran 37 yards for a 24-10 lead with 3:44 left in the game. The score was set up by a fumbled punt return by Towson's Jason Galloway.

The Tigers quickly answered, Troiani finding Galloway in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 24-17 with 1:22 left. After an onside kick squirted out of bounds, the Towson defense forced a three-and-out to give the offense its final chance.

Monmouth 0 17 0 7 - 24

Towson 0 7 3 7 - 17

Next for Towson

Opponent: Fordham

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Nov. 10, 12:30 p.m.

Record: 3-4

Yesterday: Beat Bucknell, 17-12

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