Towson's upset bid not enough, 21-17

Harrison has 3 pickoffs, but Delaware pulls it out

College Football

September 12, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEWARK, Del. - Towson played nearly perfect football in its Atlantic 10 debut last night at Delaware and gave the defending Division I-AA national champions a royal fit. It was the Tigers' lone mistake that proved pivotal.

Quarterback Andrew Goldbeck's wild pitch on a running play midway through the fourth quarter gave Delaware the ball at Towson's 13-yard line, and running back Niquan Lee scored on a 1-yard run three plays later to give the Blue Hens a come-from-behind, 21-17 victory before 22,782 at Delaware Field.

Goldbeck's turnover was Towson's only one as the quarterback got hit while trying to make a pitch near the Delaware sideline.

"I got hit, but I shouldn't have pitched it," Goldbeck said. "It was a poor decision on my part."

Towson coach Gordy Combs said mistakes are always damaging but that the loss couldn't be blamed on Goldbeck, who stayed cool under fire throughout.

"He played very well," Combs said. "He's going to be a very good quarterback ... [but] I think we played with a lot of poise. We didn't get rattled."

The Tigers rattled Delaware quarterback Sonny Riccio throughout, throwing him a number of different looks. Towson often mixed blitzes and fake blitzes while dropping five, six and seven players into coverage, which caused Riccio problems in finding open receivers.

Riccio completed 14 of 31 passes for only 81 yards - 20 of which came on one play - and drew boos from the crowd throughout.

Towson cornerback Allante Harrison gave Riccio the most trouble, picking off three passes for 62 yards. The biggest return was for 54 yards and touchdown that gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead with 12:39 left in the game.

"He kept throwing at me," Harrison said. "I don't think he was giving me any respect at all."

Towson (1-1, 0-1) played it close to the vest all night, taking a page from the Ravens' playbook as its defense shut down Delaware (1-1, 1-0) for long stretches while trying for its 200th win in school history.

Towson was trying to run down the clock midway through the final period when Goldbeck rolled right and tried to pitch the ball, but it went astray and Delaware lineman Chris Mooney recovered at the 13. Three plays later, Lee jumped over the top for the winning touchdown with 7:26 left.

The Tigers had problems moving the ball on offense all night. Towson finished with only nine first downs - just three in the second half - and 152 total yards. Goldbeck completed 15 of 28 passes for 59 yards.

Harrison had two interceptions in last week's win over Elon and kept right on going in the first half last night. He picked off two passes in the second quarter, the first one setting up the touchdown that gave the Tigers a surprising, 7-0 halftime lead.

His interceptions were more than helpful because Towson's offense struggled early and didn't get a first down until the scoring drive midway through the second quarter.

The Tigers needed 10 plays to drive 43 yards - helped greatly by two Delaware roughing-the-passer calls - and finally scored on Josh Corle's 4-yard run with 6:40 left in the half.

"I thought Towson just played an incredible football game," Delaware coach K.C. Keeler said. "We have to get used to people playing like it's their Super Bowl."

Towson 0 7 3 7 - 17

Delaware 0 0 7 14 - 21

Second quarter T-Corle 4 run (Toth kick, 6:40

Third quarter D-Haugabrook 80 punt return (Shushman kick), 7:16 T-FG 41 Toth, 5:17

Fourth quarter D-Long 6 pass from Riccio (Shushman kick), 13:15 T-Harrison 54 interception return (Toth kick), 12:39 D-Lee 1 run (Shushman kick), 7:26 A-22,782

.......................................T ........... D

First downs .............. 9 ........... 14

Rushes-yards ... 35-93 ........... 38-132

Passing ..................... 59 ........... 81

Comp-Att-Int 15-28-0 ........... 14-31-3

Return Yards ........ 498 ........... 350

Punts-Avg. ...... 11-36.5 ........... 8-37.6

Fumbles-Lost ........ 1-1 ........... 1-0

Penalties-Yards 11-95 ............ 6-49

Rushing: Towson, Corle 15-52, Miles 11-45, King 4-9, Marcus 1-5, Brown 1-(-4), Goldbeck 3-(-8). Delaware, Bleiler 17-73, Lee 8-46, Starks 7-8, Riccio 4-6.

Passing: Towson, Goldbeck 15-28-0-59. Delaware Riccio 14-31-3-81.

Receiving: Towson, Alexander 4-20, Yancey 3-19, Marcus 2-10, Perry 2-4, Collins 2-3, Corle 2-3. Delaware, Crescione 6-54, Ingram 3-16, Long 2-7, LaForgia 2-6, Madigan 1-(-2).

Next for Towson

Matchup: Northeastern (1-1) vs. Towson (1-1)

Site: Johnny Unitas Stadium

When: Sept. 25, 6 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Yesterday: Northeastern lost to Navy, 28-24.

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