Morgan, Towson kick it off tonight

New QBs are just start of Bears, Tigers questions

College Football

September 01, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

For Morgan State senior wide receiver Kelvin Dickens, burying the memories of his only losing season as a collegiate player starts tonight. For Towson University senior cornerback Davon Telp, it's a chance to run around on a football field again after a serious injury nearly ended his career before Towson had begun a disappointing 2004 season.

When Morgan State comes to Johnny Unitas Stadium to face the Towson Tigers in a game that marks the area's season opener and the renewal of a series that has become familiar in recent years, there will be no shortage of unpredictability.

Both schools are trotting out new quarterbacks. Morgan State sophomore Byron Selby replaces Bradshaw Littlejohn, last season's Player of the Year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Towson's Sean Schaefer, a second-year freshman, gets the nod after narrowly beating out incumbent Andrew Goldbeck.

Morgan State's defense, which routinely allowed an average of more than 30 points last fall, has a new coordinator in Michael Vite, who has installed a more active, blitz-happy scheme and has a proven leader in senior strong safety Larry Davis.

Towson's offense, which sputtered often during a 3-8 season a year ago - including 0-8 in its first run through the Atlantic 10 Conference - will lean on a new tailback in Rasheed McClaude, a transfer from Kent State.

Towson officials are hoping a record crowd drops by to see how it all unfolds.

"Basically, it's been a rebuilding process, going back to the drawing board, seeing what we did wrong," said Dickens, who led the MEAC in receiving yards (1,019) and averaged 22 yards per catch in 2004.

"[Tonight] is a real big chance for us to get back on that winning side. Byron Selby knows our program inside and out. We shouldn't miss a step [on offense]."

The Bears went 5-6 last year, the first losing season under fourth-year coach Donald Hill-Eley. Morgan State interrupted a six-year running rivalry with Towson by signing a one-year deal to play at San Jose State in 2004. In return, Hill-Eley said the Bears have agreed to travel to Towson again next year.

The Tigers, who hold a 12-5 series lead over Morgan and are 8-2 at home against the Bears, are anxious to prepare for their next trip through the high-powered A-10 with an important, non-conference victory.

Few players are anticipating this game with more emotion than Telp, who teams with star senior cornerback Allante Harrison to give Towson a formidable secondary.

Telp suffered a broken right leg and nerve damage in his left hand in a car accident before last season and was out for the year. In 2003, he broke up nine passes and returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game.

"Last year was devastating for me. I've been through a lot," Telp said. "After the doctors told me I'd never play again, I knew I'd be back."

Although his offensive line picture has changed - senior right guard Antoine Colvin has left the team for personal reasons and senior center Gus Kosmakos will serve a one-game suspension for violating athletic department policy - coach Gordy Combs could not pass on Schaefer at quarterback. He followed an excellent spring with a strong summer.

"It wasn't an easy decision," Combs said. "The kid has great poise. He throws a catchable ball. He's on time with his throws. The kids saw it. He proved it to them."

NOTE: Towson athletic director Wayne Edwards announced the Tigers will open the 2008 season at Navy, will play at Northwestern in 2009 and will pick up another Division I-A opponent in the Big Ten in 2010.

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