Towson stops Bucknell, stays in Patriot title race

Big-play offense, defense pace Tigers' 20-14 victory

October 20, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

After launching the Patriot League schedule with its poorest performance of the season in a loss at Lafayette, the Towson football team is now running at full stride.

The Tigers continued to stamp themselves as legitimate conference championship material yesterday, converting enough big plays to fend off Bucknell, 20-14, before 5,064 homecoming-day fans at Towson University Stadium.

Wide receiver Jamal White, an All-American in 1999 as a sophomore before missing last year with an injury, made two sensational scoring catches and linebacker Steve Hessler returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown to lead Towson (5-2, 3-1).

The defense -- paced by Neal Regan's 17 tackles and P.D. Moore's 13 -- pitched in with four interceptions overall and shut out Bucknell for nearly three quarters.

"Jamal's catch with seven seconds to go in the [first] half gave us some impetus," said Tigers coach Gordy Combs. "And then Hessler made a great play that broke their spirit a little bit."

Said Hessler, a junior linebacker: "The ball came right to me. I didn't see anything. I just went to the end zone."

Bucknell (2-4, 0-2) brought a defensive team ranked 19th nationally in NCAA Division I-AA and one extremely tough to run against (95.6 yards per game). Towson had the No. 1 rushing offense in the league and was averaging 34.7 points a game.

Towson tailback Matt Romeo gained 105 yards in 30 carries to become the first runner in 18 games to eclipse 100 against the Bison.

"They were good up front, but our line came out to play," Romeo said.

Defensive tackle Gary Carruthers intercepted Towson quarterback Jay Amer's tipped pass to set up the first Bison touchdown at the Towson 46. Five plays later, Blamah Sarnor swept in from the 1-yard line and Billy Windle's kick gave Bucknell a 7-0 lead with 2:26 left in the first quarter.

The Bison offense had a first down on a penalty during the next drive, then didn't get another until its third quarterback, Cole Ciesnolevicz marched his team 78 yards in 14 plays to an 11-yard scoring pass to Jim Horan with 2:48 left in the game.

Towson then effectively consumed nearly all the remaining time with Amer running for a huge first down on a third-and-seven play. Eventually, the Tigers punted before Edmund Carazo's second interception of the game assured there would be no miracle finish.

Bucknell's fifth straight road loss was punctuated by 104 penalty yards assessed against both sides, making the flow erratic and time consuming.

The win sets the stage for another huge game for the Tigers next week against Colgate, the second foe they've faced in three weeks that they have never beaten.

Towson will face Colgate with a revamped offensive line after ankle injuries suffered yesterday by veterans Kevin Mager and Joe O'Connor. Two freshmen will probably fill those positions next week.

"This team is able to take on a challenge and deal with it," Combs said. "They like a high challenge."

Another one is on the horizon as Towson strives for its first Patriot League title.

Bucknell 7 0 0 7 -- 14

Towson 0 7 13 0 -- 20

First quarter B--Sarnor 1 run (Windle kick), 2:26 Second quarter T--White 29 pass from Amer (Whitacre kick), 0:07 Third quarter T--Hessler 29 INT return, (Whitacre kick), 10:12 T--White 44 pass from Amer (kick failed), 8:41 Fourth quarter B--Horan 11 pass from Ciesnolevicz (Lundberg kick), 2:48 A--5,064


First downs 13 19

Rushes-yards 27-95 50-131

Passing yards 167 184

Comp-Att-Int 21-34-4 12-24-1

Return Yards 10 66

Punts 9-37.7 8-32.0

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 10-104 11-104

Time of possession 25:30 34:30

Rushing: Bucknell, Sarnor 15-67, Wenrich 5-14, Fields 2-6, Kawczenski 1-3, Darrington 1-3, Ciesnolevicz 3-2. Towson, Romeo 30-105, Miles 7-27, White 1-9, Marcus 1-4, Galloway 1-(minus-3), Amer 10-(minus-11). Passing: Bucknell, Wenrich 11-18-71-2, Ciesnolevicz 10-15-96-2, Fields 0-1-0-0. Towson, Amer 12-23-184-1, team 0-1-0-0. Receiving: Bucknell, Sarnor 6-53, Horan 3-36, Miller 3-22, Wilson 3-12, Marquardt 2-24, Johnson 1-8, Darrington 1-5, Kawczenski 1-5, Nutt 1-2. Towson, White 4-101, Grubb 4-37, Galloway 3-46, Romeo 1-0.

Next for Towson


Site:Towson University Stadium

When:Saturday, 1 p.m.


Yesterday:Beat Cornell, 42-13

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.