A-10 brings Towson back to earth

New Hampshire romps, 62-21, making 2-0 start just a memory for Tigers

College Football

September 18, 2005|By Matt Papuchis | Matt Papuchis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The script is becoming all too familiar for Towson coach Gordy Combs and the Tigers. After winning its first two games against weaker nonconference opponents, Towson opened conference play yesterday at Johnny Unitas Stadium against New Hampshire and after a 62-21 drubbing before 3,014, Towson is still left wondering when its first Atlantic 10 victory will come.

"We felt that this was a little bit of a benchmark game," Combs said. "When you look at the final score, it was very similar to last year, but I think it was a lot different because it wasn't 31-0 at the end of the second quarter."

Combs was referencing last year's 62-24 loss to the Wildcats in Durham, N.H. - by far the Tigers' worst loss of the season.

This time around, Towson was riding a two-game win streak and entered the game boasting the No. 3 defense in Division I-AA, allowing an average of just 127 yards in its wins over Morgan State and Lock Haven.

But the Tigers were not able to maintain that momentum yesterday. New Hampshire (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic 10) overpowered Towson (2-1, 0-1) and exploited a solid secondary comprised of seniors Davon Telp and Allante Harrison en route to 590 yards, 427 of which were through the air.

Quarterback Ricky Santos led the Wildcats yesterday, going 23-for-33 with 422 yards passing. He also scored two rushing touchdowns. All-American David Ball had seven catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.

The Tigers' offense, which entered the game fifth in Division I-AA after scoring 99 points in its first two games, provided the only positive take-away of the afternoon for Towson. The unit still managed to put up more than 400 yards in the loss.

Freshman Sean Schaefer was 24-for-40 with 256 yards and two touchdown passes. However, he also had two interceptions - one of which was returned by Corey Graham 75 yards for a score late in the third quarter.

Combs said that Graham's score was one of the biggest difference makers in the game. Although it was trailing 41-21 when Schaefer's pass was intercepted, Towson still managed to move the ball efficiently and put up two scores in the third quarter - a 10-yard catch by Marcus Lee and a 23-yard catch by Eric Yancey. But Graham's touchdown shifted momentum back in New Hampshire's favor for good.

"The interception took the wind out of our sails a little bit," Combs said.

In the fourth quarter, New Hampshire, which set a stadium record for points scored on Towson, breaking New Haven's 55 in 1990, closed out the game with two more touchdowns.

The Tigers started the game in a hole as New Hampshire scored on its first drive, going 80 yards in just seven plays. With the Tigers trailing 10-0, Towson's lone scoring drive in the first half began with Rocky Brown's 30-yard kickoff return. Nick Williams capped the short drive with a 4-yard touchdown, making it 10-7. However, the Wildcats scored 17 points to close out the half, taking a 27-7 lead.

Last season - Towson's first in the Atlantic 10 - the Tigers went undefeated in nonconference play. In-conference play was another story, as the Tigers finished the season 0-8 in arguably the most competitive and toughest conference in all of Division I-AA. If yesterday's game is a barometer for the rest of the year, Towson may be in for a long season.

Still, Combs said that you can't necessarily base a team's progress on the score alone.

"It's disappointing," he said. "But I don't look at it that way. I look at it that we were still very much in the game late in the third quarter."

New Hampshire 17 10 21 14-62

Towson 7 0 14 0-21 First quarter NH-Santos 7 run (McCormick kick), 12:16. NH-FG McCormick 19, 4:20. TU-Williams 4 run (Halbruner kick), 2:30. NH-Williams 36 pass from Santos (McCormick kick), 1:14. Second quarter NH-McCoy 2 run (McCormick kick), 7:18. NH-FG McCormick 36, :17. Third quarter TU-Lee 10 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 13:06. NH-Santos 5 run (McCormick kick), 11:50. TU-Yancey 23 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 4:29. NH-LeVan 46 pass from Santos (McCormick kick), 3:12. NH-Graham 75 interception return McCormick kick), 1:46. Fourth quarter NH-Ball 39 pass from Santos (McCormick kick), 13:29. NH-Simpson 68 run (McCormick kick), 4:33. A-3,014.

NH TU

First downs 22 22

Rushes-yards 32-163 36-121

Passing 427 297

Comp-Att-Int 24-35-0 29-51-2

Return Yards 91 189

Punts-Avg. 2-44 8-32.9

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0

Penalties-Yards 3-20 6-61

Time of Possession 23:29 36:31 Rushing-New Hampshire, Simpson 4-79, McCoy 14-51, Santos 5-20, Ward 7-17, Team 1-0, Hendricks 1-(minus 4). Towson, Williams 14-55, McClaude 8-43, King 4-15, Goldbeck 2-13, Corle 1-7, Miles 1-0, Schaefer 6-(minus 12). Passing-New Hampshire, Santos 23-33-0-3 422, Hendricks 1-1-0-0 5, Elia 0-1-0-0 0. Towson, Schaefer 24-40-2-2 256, Goldbeck 5-11-0-0 41. Receiving-New Hampshire, Ball 7-152, LeVan 4-107, Brown 3-75, Henry 3-20, Boyle 2-19, McCoy 2-11, Ward 2-7, Williams 1-36. Towson, Brown 6-87, Arnold 6-49, Yancey 4-63, Lee 4-34, Brown 3-46, Perry 2-6, Harrison 1-5, Alexander 1-5, Williams 1-5, Miles 1-(minus 5).

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