At home, Towson cleans up

35-16 victory over Albany ensures at least .500 mark

College Football

November 16, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A senior defensive end and two freshmen scored their first career touchdowns yesterday as Towson guaranteed itself a 26th non-losing season with a 35-16 victory over Albany at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

The win over a team that will share the Northeast Conference title puts Towson (6-5) in position to register a fourth winning record in five years. The Tigers improved to 5-0 at home, and will play their final Patriot League game there Saturday against Fordham.

Much of the spotlight belonged to Jason Troilo, a Tigers co-captain whose interception and subsequent 38-yard return to the end zone pushed Towson ahead 21-9 with 56 seconds remaining before halftime.

"That was a major key," said Tigers coach Gordy Combs. "Something like that breaks the spirit of the other team."

Run-happy Albany (7-4) was in the thick of things at that point, but again encountered its season-long bugaboo, turnovers, to fall behind.

Early in the second quarter, the Tigers had turned a fumble recovery by tackle Mike Collier into their first touchdown after a 46-yard drive. Tailback Matt Romeo scored less than a minute into the period on a 14-yard run to make it 7-3.

The Great Danes responded immediately, thanks in large part to a 54-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Dustin Wilson.

Ten plays later, Albany scored on a 5-yard pass from Anthony Sciarra to Jon George, marking one of the few times all day its air game succeeded.

After a punt exchange, Towson drove 58 yards to the end zone with freshman quarterback Andrae Brown (Milford Mill) scampering the final 11 yards after starter Anthony Melzi was knocked out of the game briefly.

It was on the next series that Troilo made his biggest play since his tackle at the Towson 5 with 20 seconds left preserved the team's first victory against Lehigh last year.

"I have to say the tackle meant more [than yesterday's touchdown] because we're supposed to do that," the defensive end said. "But this was exciting."

Towson's other first-time touchdown maker was wide receiver Eric Yancey, who caught a 41-yard pass from Melzi with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

A short snap to Wilson on a fake punt produced a 51-yard dash by Wilson to set up Albany's final touchdown -- scored by record-setting tailback Gary Jones from the 6.

Very few have been keeping up with Jones in Division I-AA. He entered the game averaging 138.4 yards a game -- fourth nationally -- and exceeded that with 140 yards on 26 carries. He also passed Greg Garrett as the school's all-time rushing leader and became the first 3,000-yard runner in Albany history.

"I don't have anything to say about it," Jones said. "I'm upset that I lost my last game as a college player."

Besides the two turnovers, two other factors served to undermine the Great Danes: an inability to supplement Jones with effective passing and penalties at crucial junctures -- including four for illegal formations.

"Usually, you lose games rather than win them," said Albany coach Bob Ford. "You have to control your mistakes."

One of the mistakes came from safety Lucas Kurtz when a wobbly pass by Melzi somehow soared over his head to the Tigers' Jason Galloway (Old Mill), who walked in to complete a 62-yard scoring play with eight seconds left in the third quarter. That put it out of reach.

Albany 3 6 7 0 -- 16

Towson 0 21 14 0 -- 35

First quarter A--Zylinski 31 FG, 6:20 Second quarter T--Romeo 14 run (Toth kick), 14:04 A--George 5 pass from Sciarra (kick failed), 9:24 T--Brown 11 run (Toth kick), 2:37 T--Troilo 38 INT return (Toth kick), :56 Third quarter T--Yancey 41 pass from Melzi (Toth kick), 4:05 A--Jones 6 run (Zylinski kick), 1:14 T--Galloway 62 pass from Melzi (Toth kick), :08 A--2,118.

A T

First downs 16 16

Rushes-yards 49-276 44-196

Passing 77 149

Comp-Att-Int 8-17-1 7-15-0

Return Yards 149 80

Punts-Avg. 7-37.0 8-43.1

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 10-68 9-68

Time of Possession 30:58 29:02

Rushing--Albany, Jones 26-140, Wilson 1-51, George 6-37, Sciarra 10-33, Vidal 3-10, Unverzagt 2-7, Delgado 1-(-2). Towson, Harris 8-75, Romeo 16-62, Brown 6-35, Lundy 8-28, Dickensheets 1-1, Melzi 5-(-5). Passing--Albany, Sciarra 6-15-1-56, Delgado 1-1-0-5, Lavelle 1-1-0-16. Towson, Melzi 7-15-0-149. Receiving--Albany, Miller 2-23, Crudo 2-21, Howarth 1-14, Vidal 1-8, Jones 1-6, George 1-5. Towson, Galloway 3-76, Byroads 2-26, Yancey 1-41, Marcus 1-6.

Next for Towson

Matchup: Fordham (8-3, 3-3) vs. Towson (6-5, 3-3)

Site: Johnny Unitas Stadium

When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Yesterday: Fordham lost to Colgate, 14-3.

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