It wasn't exactly the Patriot League farewell tour that Towson and coach Gordy Combs were hoping for.
The Tigers, who will move to the Atlantic 10 Conference next year, had entered the season expecting to compete for the Patriot League title, but after a couple early losses, they were pretty much eliminated from the race.
The Tigers had one last chance at redemption yesterday, but they couldn't capitalize on an early lead and dropped their final Patriot League game to defending conference champion Fordham, 35-22, before 2,258 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
On Towson's Senior Day, it was Fordham senior wide receiver Javarus Dudley who was the big story. Dudley had 10 catches for 246 yards for the Rams (9-3, 4-3).
His four touchdown receptions tied a school and conference record.
After defensive back Davon Telp of Towson (6-6, 3-4) left the game with a hip pointer in the second quarter, Dudley exploited an inexperienced secondary on his way to setting numerous school and conference records.
Combs said Telp's absence was a major factor in Dudley's success.
"Losing Davon Telp really hurt. We wanted to go ahead and match him up with Dudley," he said. "After he got hurt, it was very difficult to get that matchup. Dudley had a great game, without Davon Telp. That's the key."
Even with Dudley's performance, the Tigers still had a shot heading into the fourth quarter, trailing 28-7.
Ray Harris managed to find the end zone from 1 yard out to cut the Rams' lead to 14 with 6:42 remaining. Then after the Tigers forced a Fordham safety, Towson got the ball back trailing 28-16 with three minutes left. But backup quarterback Andrae Brown threw an interception that would set up Fordham's final score.
On the last play of the game, senior tailback Matt Romeo ran it in from the 1-yard line, giving him a touchdown on his final carry in a Tigers uniform.
"Our whole motto all year has been to play hard for 60 minutes, and we played hard for 60 minutes," Combs said. "We didn't give up where a lot of teams could have. We could have folded our tent, but I'm proud of our team to be able to do that and fight hard and get back in the game."
Towson scored first with a little more than four minutes to go in the first quarter when Anthony Melzi connected with Jason Galloway on a 30-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 7-0.
The Tigers seemed to have the momentum, and after a second Steve Hessler interception two minutes later, Towson was poised to score again. Melzi hit James Byroads for what would have been a 60-yard touchdown pass, but an offensive pass interference call on the other side of the field negated the long score that would have given the Tigers a 14-0 lead.
"It was huge," Combs said. "I think it's a terrible call when you call a penalty that has nothing to do with the play."
Fordham 0 14 14 7 - 35
Towson 7 0 0 15 - 22
First quarter T-Galloway 30 pass from Melzi (Toth kick), 4:37. Second quarter F-Dudley 4 pass from Eakin (Clukey kick), 11:07. F-Dudley 70 pass from Eakin (Clukey kick), 8:51. Third quarter F-Dudley 21 pass from Eakin (Clukey kick), 10:10. F-Kornegay 40 interception return (Clukey kick), 9:11. Fourth quarter T- Harris 1 run (Toth kick), 6:42. T-Moore safety, 5:38. F-Dudley 3 pass from Eakin (Clukey kick), 2:59. T-Romeo 1 run (rush failed), 0:00. A-2,258.
First downs 12 21
Rushes-yards 34-55 53-122
Passing 294 229
Comp-Att-Int 15-27-2 11-31-3
Return yards 98 153
Punts-Avg. 7-36.4 8-42.1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-75 8-85
Time of possession 25:48 34:12
Rushing-Fordham, Watson 25-78, Hunte 2-6, Eakin 7-(minus 29). Towson, Harris 12-53, Brown 14-45, Romeo 15-30, Brunetti 4-10, Lundy 1-2, Melzi 7-(minus 18). Passing-Fordham, Eakin 15-27-2-294. Towson, Melzi 7-22-2-117, Brown 4-9-1-112. Receiving-Fordham, Dudley 10-246, Watson 2-14, Caffarello 1-17, Hogan 1-12, Dennis 1-5. Towson, Galloway 5-99, Marcus 1-62, Yancey 1-22, Brunetti 1-21, Byroads 1-12, Lightner 1-7, Romeo 1-6.