Mistake-prone Towson falls to Lehigh, 35-3

Mountain Hawks avenge last year's loss to Tigers

College Football

November 02, 2003|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh's dogged defense and special teams capitalized on a series of Towson miscues and turned a potentially tight Patriot League game into a 35-3 rout before 13,853 yesterday at Goodman Stadium.

It was the 11th and final meeting in a series that began in 1986. The Mountain Hawks avenged last year's 23-19 loss at Towson, a stunner that ended the Tigers' nine-game losing streak to Lehigh.

Yesterday's game also left a sour taste with Towson coach Gordy Combs. With the outcome long decided, Lehigh added to the scoring with third-stringer Gregory Fay's 4-yard touchdown run, capping an 83-yard drive with 33 seconds left.

"No comment" was Combs' initial response about Fay's score that wrapped up Lehigh's fourth straight Patriot League triumph and kept his team (6-2 overall) on track to challenge unbeaten Colgate for the Patriot League title Saturday.

But he added, "they [the Lehigh coaches] have to live with their consciences and I have to live with mine."

But there will be no Patriot League titles - ever - for the Tigers (4-5, 2-3). The Atlantic 10 beckons next fall, and with it Towson's chance to flourish in a full-scholarship conference loaded with similar state schools.

"Their first 14 points were on a blocked punt and an interception return, and that kind of hurts you," Combs said.

"It's always frustrating; I don't care whether it's a one-point loss or a 32-point loss like it was today.

"And Lehigh just doesn't lose at home. I think they've lost just twice here in five years [to Colgate in 2002 and to Pennsylvania four weeks ago.]"

Towson dominated the ground game, with Matt Romeo's 61 yards leading a 91-yard effort and Lehigh being held to 23. But the Mountain Hawks dominated in the air, with Kyle Keating throwing for 182 of his team's 257 yards, including two touchdowns, while Towson's Anthony Melzi was limited to 12 of 35 for 134 yards. Steve Bulcavage fell short of a share of a Towson record - with his 10 punts for a 41.8 average.

Linebacker Anthony Graziani bounded through a gap to block Bulcavage's kick, fell on it a yard into the end zone, and Matt Douglas' extra point gave Lehigh a 7-0 lead 3:24 into the game.

Early in the second, Towson seemed to have the equalizer on Melzi's 4-yard toss to Jason Calloway in the far left corner of the end zone, but Calloway couldn't bring it down in bounds. The Tigers settled for Stephan Toth's 21-yard field goal.

Lawrence Williams intercepted Melzi's sideline pass intended for James Byroads and sprinted in from the 31 for a 14-3 lead 3 1/2 minutes later.

Towson's struggles continued when Keating's pass bounded out of cornerback Davon Telp's near-grasp and into Jason Beck's hands for a 29-yard touchdown 4:40 before halftime.

P.D. Moore's interception and Melzi's 14-yard completion to Will Marcus gave the Tigers good field position at the Hawks' 16, but Towson stalled on one more opportunity eight minutes into the third quarter.

Keating responded by leading a nine-play, 78-yard drive, capped by his 8-yard pass to Jermaine Pugh for a 28-3 lead 11:16 into the third quarter.

Towson 0 3 0 0 - 3

Lehigh 7 14 7 7 - 35

First quarter Leh-Graziani 0 blocked punt return (Douglas kick), 11:36. Second quarter Tow-FG Toth 21, 12:02. Leh-Williams 31 interception return (Douglas kick), 8:31. Leh-Beck 29 pass from Keating (Douglas kick), 4:40. Third quarter Leh-Pugh 8 pass from Keating (Douglas kick), 3:44. Fourth quarter Leh-Fay 4 run (Douglas kick), :33. A-13,853.

Tow Leh

First downs 14 12

Rushes-yards 45-91 19-23

Passing 139 257

Comp-Att-Int 13-39-1 20-33-3

Return Yards 55 123

Punts-Avg. 11-38.0 8-41.8

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards 10-82 6-49

Time of Possession 34:47 25:13

Rushing-Towson, Romeo 14-61, A.Brown 12-26, Harris 2-15, Drewery 1-9, Lundy 10-6, Brunetti 1-5, Melzi 5-(minus 31). Lehigh, Pugh 11-39, Bowers 2-4, Fay 2-4, Keating 4-(minus 24). Passing-Towson, Melzi 12-35-1 134, A.Brown 1-3-0 5, Team 0-1-0 0. Lehigh, Keating 18-31-3 182, Borda 2-2-0 75. Receiving-Towson, Marcus 4-43, Galloway 3-21, Yancey 2-54, Byroads 2-16, Brunetti 1-5, Lundy 1-0. Lehigh, Pugh 5-40, Bergen 4-26, Walker 2-49, Kovacs 2-49, Bowers 1-35, Beck 1-29, Crockett 1-15, Argenta 1-8, Evans 1-4, Fay 1-2, Keating 1-0.

Next for Towson

Matchup: Towson (4-5, 2-3) vs. Georgetown (3-6, 1-4)

Site: Harbin Field, Washington

When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Yesterday: Georgetown lost to Fordham, 34-10.

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