Towson succumbs to Bucknell's rally, 14-10

Leading 10-0, Tigers fall victim to Sarnor's two rushing touchdowns

College Football

October 19, 2003|By Matt Papuchis | Matt Papuchis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Heading into yesterday's Patriot League game, Towson University knew that Bucknell had a dangerous weapon at quarterback. However, the Tigers were preparing for the wrong guy.

After starting quarterback Daris Wilson was injured midway through the opening quarter, backup John Henry Jackson came in and rallied the Bison to a 14-10 win before a homecoming crowd of 6,212 at Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium.

"We thought that when Daris Wilson was hurt that we had a chance," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "Jackson came in and we fell asleep a little bit at the end of the half. But I think our football team played hard for 60 minutes. We just came up a little short today."

After Towson (3-4, 2-2 Patriot League) watched its 10-point lead disappear over the second and third quarters -- thanks to two 1-yard rushing touchdowns by running back Blamah Sarnor -- the Tigers still had one final chance with a little more than a minute to play in the game, trailing Bucknell (4-3, 2-0) by four.

The Tigers forced a Bucknell punt and took over at their 36. Quarterback Anthony Melzi completed a couple of long passes to get the Tigers to the Bucknell 27. However, on his final attempt of the game, a desperation pass soared over the head of his intended receiver and was intercepted by Jerome Acy with 15 seconds left to seal Bucknell's win.

The early injury took away Bucknell's best offensive weapon in Wilson. In the first six games this season, the Bison quarterback had rushed for 638 yards -- good for third in the conference and 23rd nationally -- and four touchdowns.

Without him, the option play that the Bison used so efficiently against defending Patriot League champion Fordham earlier in the year was virtually taken away. Instead, Jackson came in and caught the Tigers off-guard with a more traditional style passing game, going 9-for-11 for 129 yards.

As a result of the change of style, Towson had a hard time adjusting.

"All week we were planning for the quarterback running," said Towson linebacker Steve Hessler (seven tackles). "The backup quarterback was a better passer, except we weren't worrying about the pass all week."

After a relatively sloppy start to the game in which both teams turned the ball over within the opening five minutes, the Bison began driving and managed to march to the Towson 16 when Wilson twisted an ankle and had to leave the game.

The Tigers immediately took advantage. On the first play after the injury, the first backup quarterback Bucknell used, Cole Ciesnolevicz, was intercepted by Towson linebacker Neal Reagan.

Mikal Lundy capped an 84-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes to go in the opening quarter. But that would be the last time the Tigers found the end zone.

The Tigers added to their lead five minutes into the second quarter on Stephan Toth's 38-yard field goal, but it wasn't enough, and Towson lost its fifth straight road game dating to last season.

Towson 7 3 0 0 -- 10

Bucknell 0 7 7 0 -- 14

First quarter T--Lundy 4 run (Toth kick), 3:10 Second quarter T--Toth 38 FG, 10:14 B--Sarnor 1 run (Korn kick), 3:43 Third quarter B--Sarnor 1 run (Korn kick), 1:48 A--6212.

T B

First downs 16 16

Rushes-yards 45-134 45-171

Passing 189 169

Comp-Att-Int 14-29-3 11-16-1

Return yards 90 53

Punts-Avg 7-37.7 8-33.6

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 10-80 6-70

Time of possession 32:57 27:03

Rushing--Towson, Lundy 24-105, Brunetti 7-38, Levy 1-6, Romeo 5-3, Hariss 1-0, Melzi 7-(-18). Bucknell, Sarnor 23-107, Johnson 7-35, Wilson 6-20, Kennedy 2-11, Jackson 4-1, Lazio 1-1, team 1-(-1), Ciesnolevicz 1-(-3). Passing--Towson, Melzi 14-29-3-189. Bucknell, Jackson 9-11-0-129, Ciesnolevicz 0-3-1-0, Wilson 1-1-0-10, Johnson 1-1-0-30. Receiving--Towson, Galloway 6-99, Romeo 3-46, Byroads 2-24, Marcus 2-21, Lundy 1-(-1). Bucknell, Marquardt 5-99, Johnson 4-45, Trotter 2-25.

Next for Towson

Matchup: Elon (2-6) vs. Towson (3-4)

Site: Johnny Unitas Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Yesterday: Elon lost to Chattanooga, 24-7.

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