Towson loses grip in 2nd-half collapse

Turnovers help Tribe end Tigers' 3-game streak

William And Mary 44 Towson 13

College football


Williamsburg, Va. -- For just about two quarters yesterday, Towson did its best to erase the memory of one its worst losses of last season.

For 30 minutes, the Tigers evenly battled William and Mary -- the 12th-ranked Division I-AA team in the country -- before unraveling in the third quarter, giving up four straight touchdowns in the second half en route to a 44-13 loss before 8,922 at Walter J. Zable Stadium.

After playing a perfect first half in regard to penalties and turnovers, Towson (5-3, 2-3 Atlantic 10) committed six costly penalties for 56 yards in the second half and committed two turnovers in the third quarter, both of which resulted in Tribe touchdowns.

Towson coach Gordy Combs said that those two factors proved to be much of the difference in yesterday's game.

"We knew we were playing a very good football team," Combs said. "We knew we couldn't turn the ball over. Penalties also hurt us. Those are some of the things we haven't done in our previous three games."

The loss ended Towson's three-game winning steak, two of which were Atlantic 10 contests, and dropped its conference record below .500.

William and Mary (5-2, 3-1), which won a share of the conference title last year, sits at the top of the Atlantic 10 South along with Richmond.

Freshman Sean Schaefer led Towson with 255 yards passing and a touchdown, and Nick Williams rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries. Marcus Lee had eight receptions for 93 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

But Towson's offense couldn't match the Tribe's. William and Mary scored on each of its possessions -- including first-half field goals of 44, 48 and 39 yards by Greg Kuehn, the school's all-time leading scorer -- except for kneel-downs to end the first half and the game.

"We had a hard time stopping them all day," Combs said. "They execute extremely well."

Trailing by just 16-13 at the half -- thanks to Lee's touchdown catch and two field goals by Ron Halbruner (30 and 26 yards) -- Towson seemed in position to challenge the Tribe until the end, but the second half was another story.

Towson went the whole first half without giving up a third-down conversion, but it allowed two on the first drive of the second half. The Tribe drove 74 yards in 15 plays -- capped by Tony Viola's first rushing touchdown of his career from the 1-yard line -- to give William and Mary a 23-13 lead.

That's when Towson's turnover troubles started. On its next possession, the Tigers fumbled and the Tribe recovered at the Towson 16-yard line. It took William and Mary just three plays to find the end zone again to go up 30-13 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.

On Towson's next possession, Schaefer's pass on fourth down was intercepted and returned 72 yards for a score by Ryan Nickell. It was the Tribe's longest interception for a touchdown since 1996 and put William and Mary up 37-13 with 1:04 to play in the third.

A final rushing touchdown by quarterback Jacob Phillips, who finished with 202 yards passing, provided the exclamation point for a second half in which the Tribe scored four touchdowns in less than 20 minutes.

Towson 7 6 0 0 -- 13

William & Mary 10 6 21 7 -- 44

First quarter WM--Nicholas 13 pass from Phillips (Kuehn kick), 7:10. T--Lee 22 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 3:22. WM--FG Kuehn 44, :00.

Second quarter T--FG Halbruner 30, 10:39. WM--FG Kuehn 48, 6:59. WM--Kuehn 39, 3:10 T--FG Halbruner 26, :12.

Third quarter WM--Viola 1 run (Kuehn kick), 8:39. WM--Phillips 1 run (Kuehn kick), 6:10.

WM--Nickell 72 interception return (Kuehn kick), 1:04. Fourth quarter WM--Phillips 4 run (Kuehn kick), 5:09. A--8,922.

Towson W&M

First downs 20 24

Rushes-yards 27-62 42-210

Passing 255 202

Comp-Att-Int 24-37-1 16-21-0

Return Yards 0 87

Punts-Avg. 4-33 0-0

Fumbles-Lost 4-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 6-56 5-55

Time of Possession 30:06 29:54 Rushing--Towson, Williams 16-77, Lee 1-3, King 1-1, Schaefer 8-(minus 9), Brown 1-(minus 10). William and Mary, Holmes 13-76, Phillips 10-39, Mack 1-29, Viola 5-24, Coley 4-23, Brooks 8-20, Team 1-(minus 1). Passing--Towson, Schaefer 24-37-1-255. William and Mary, Phillips 16-21-0-202. Receiving--Towson, Lee 8-93, Yancey 6-63, Brown 6-60, Williams 2-18, Harrison 1-13, Alexander 1-8. William and Mary, Nicholas 6-83, Mack 3-65, Lustig 3-9, Brooks 1-14, Bratton 1-14, Marianacci 1-13, Trinkle 1-4.

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