Towson overpowers Holy Cross, 30-13

Regrouping after week off, Tigers end two-game slide

College Football

October 12, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Towson University couldn't have scripted its homecoming any better.

On a sunny autumn day when its renovated stadium was officially renamed Johnny Unitas Stadium in honor of the late Colts legend, the Tigers controlled Patriot League rival Holy Cross from the onset yesterday to score a 30-13 victory before a crowd of 8,125.

The result kept Towson (3-3, 2-1) alive in the conference title race and ended a two-game losing streak for the Tigers, who had a bye last week.

"We went back to fundamentals," said Tigers coach Gordy Combs. "Ever since we gave up 62 points [to Yale], we talked about just doing your job on defense. On offense, we wanted to establish a running game and be patient. The off week came at a good time for us. It enabled us to get away from football for a few days."

Holy Cross (1-5, 1-2) - which has lost four straight and seven of its past eight dating to last season- pitched in by playing the perfect homecoming visitor.

The Crusaders aided their demise with a rash of mistakes, including four turnovers, a failure to down one of their punts on the Towson 1 that would have pinned down the Tigers, and a botched snap in the shadow of the Towson goal line just before halftime that prevented them from staying close.

A screen pass to Gideon Akande that turned into a 52-yard touchdown play was the only breakdown before halftime by the Tigers' defense, which held Holy Cross to minus-14 yards on its first two possessions.

The other touchdown, a 17-yard pass from backup quarterback Brian Schiller to nationally ranked receiver Ari Confesor, did not occur until Towson had the game well in hand.

"Everything went our way. We took away their runs on the first couple of drives," said Tigers freshman defensive back Tony Lumpkin.

On attack, sophomore quarterback Anthony Melzi was efficient in his second start, freshman kicker Stephan Toth converted a career-long 39-yard field goal and Mikal Lundy rushed for a career-best 138 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run.

Lundy, who left the game late in the third quarter with a bruised chest, turned a third-and-one play into an end zone dash to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

"I was just looking to get the yard," he said. "But Gus [Konstant Kosmakos, the center] made a big block off the linebacker and I just creeped on through."

That run came just three plays after the Crusaders' LeRoy Knight watched as his team's quick kick hit the pylon instead of downing the ball at the 1-yard line.

"It was a 99-yard mistake. You can't watch that ball hit the pylon," said Holy Cross coach Dan Allen. "It's just not the way to play."

Towson got completely comfortable by taking the second-half kickoff and driving 75 yards in eight plays to the end zone, with Matt Romeo scoring from the 3. That increased the lead to 27-7 and after Holy Cross punted and was picked off by Bryan Fitzpatrick on its next two series, Toth converted his field goal to increase the margin to 23 points.

That followed a gaffe at the end of the first half by Holy Cross, the botched snap that prevented any cut into Towson's 20-7 lead as the clock expired.

Even Lundy's loss for the rest of the game didn't slow the Tigers, who had Romeo and Ray Harris back from injuries to spell the top runner.

"It was my first start at home and it turned out to be a nice day with the big crowd and the ceremonies," Melzi said. "This game gave me a lot more confidence."

Holy Cross 0 7 0 6 - 13

Towson 7 13 10 0 - 30

First quarter T-Marcus 5 pass from Melzi (Toth kick), 6:35 Second quarter T-Lundy 71 run (Toth kick), 8:03 HC-Akande 52 pass from O'Neill (DeSantis kick), 5:47 T-Byroads 34 pass from Melzi (kick failed), :49 Third quarter T-Romeo 3 run (Toth kick), 11:50 T-Toth 39 FG, 5:52 Fourth quarter HC-Confesor 17 pass from Schiller (kick failed), 12:54 A-8,125.

HC T

First downs 18 19

Rushes-yards 41-118 44-260

Passing 199 186

Comp-Att-Int 13-30-1 12-24-0

Return yards 163 38

Punts-Avg 6-30.7 7-39.7

Fumbles-Lost 3-3 1-0

Penalties-Yards 6-55 13-122

Time of possession 28:47 31:13

Rushing-Holy Cross, Silva 22-67, Akande 5-45, Schiller 6-23, Confesor 1-4, O'Neill 7-(-21). Towson, Lundy 13-138, Romeo 12-48, Harris 7-46, Drewery 2-31, Duncan 4-10, Brown 2-6, Brunetti 1-2, team 1-0, Melzi 2-(-21). Passing-Holy Cross, O'Neill 10-21-1-155, Schiller 3-7-0-44, team 0-1-0-0, Silva 0-1-0-0. Towson, Melzi 12-24-186. Receiving-Holy Cross, Akande 5-85, Confesor 4-73, Larsen 3-34, Gruber 1-7. Towson, Galloway 5-56, Byroads 2-85, Brunetti 1-27, Lightner 1-6, Lundy 1-6, Marcus 1-5, Yancey 1-1.

More coverage

The Hall of Fame quarterback "would have been pleased and humbled" by yesterday's dedication of Johnny Unitas Stadium, his widow, Sandra, says. [Section B]

Next for Towson

Matchup: Towson (3-3, 2-1) vs. Bucknell (3-3, 1-0)

Site: Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium, Lewisburg, Pa.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Yesterday: Bucknell lost to Pennsylvania, 14-13.

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