Towson finds a familiar face

Elon coach Lembo hails from former Patriot League rival Lehigh

Morgan State regroups


September 08, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

The Towson football team has the unusual assignment of facing opponents with new head coaches for three consecutive games, a situation that can make pre-game preparations dicey this early in the season.

But, at least in the first one, tomorrow at Elon, N.C., the Tigers will be going against a familiar rival.

Elon is now coached by Pete Lembo, who was either an assistant or the head coach at Lehigh during the seven years both schools were in the Patriot League. Lehigh won six of those meetings, four of them convincingly.

"We know a lot about each other," said Towson coach Gordy Combs, whose team romped past Morgan State, 30-2, in the opener. "And in the previous two years when we didn't play Lehigh [after moving to the Atlantic 10], Bob Benson [the new defensive coordinator] did as the head coach at Georgetown. We know what their schemes are going to be."

Combs pointed out that Morgan State had changed its defensive and offensive coordinators for this season, but acknowledged that preparing for a team with a new coach is generally more difficult.

"You have to figure out what they're going to do in critical situations, what they like to do overall," said Combs, who is 2-0 against Elon. "It's a feeling-out process. You only have one game you can base your plans on. On the other hand, there are only going to be so many formations and coverages they can use."

The Phoenix opened impressively under Lembo, winning 23-20 at No. 25 Coastal Carolina, its first victory over a Division I-AA Top 25 team in six years.

Combs said the Tigers are "a lot better team than we were at this time last year. We have that swagger back."

The Tigers will play again this week without three of their leading offensive starters: wide receiver Andrae Brown (broken finger), tailback Nick Williams (hamstring) and tight end Ryan Collins (mononucleosis).

Combs offered kudos to his restructured offensive line, which protected Sean Schaefer adeptly. He particularly praised redshirt freshman Dan Bridges (Francis Scott Key), the right tackle. "I was very pleased to watch him play. He only got beat one time. He's a big kid who doesn't say beans, but he has a lot of pride in what he's doing."

Official complaint

Morgan State will try to regroup at Monmouth, N.J., which began its season with a 23-9 road victory in the wind and rain at Fordham.

Coach Donald Hill-Eley said he is hoping for a better shake in the officiating, which he characterized as "just bad" in the Towson game after reviewing the film. "We got some home cooking, some leftovers. When you see it, it's ridiculous you have to endure that type of officiating, a lot of stuff that wasn't there."

Towson actually had more penalty yards (77-51), but infractions at key times and three lost fumbles undermined the Bears' offense, which never reached the red zone.

Hill-Eley won the first game of his Morgan tenure against Monmouth, 35-20, in 2002, but this one figures to be tougher since the Hawks have 38 returning players and lost only two starters.

"There was a lot of positives coming out of the first game and if we're given the opportunity, we can do well," Hill-Eley said. "We were able to run against a good defense and the defense only gave up 85 yards rushing. Our offensive line graded out good and we came out without any injuries."

Monmouth held Fordham to 221 yards, 89 of which came on one touchdown run, and forced four turnovers.

Et cetera

The Towson volleyball team will host third-ranked UCLA on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers are 5-2 and the Bruins are 6-0. ... Longtime UMES football coach Skip McCain was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this summer. He compiled one of the highest winning percentages ever with a 102-21-5 record (nearly 83 percent). ... The Loyola men's lacrosse program has hired Dan Chemotti from St. John's as its offensive coordinator. A former Duke player, Chemotti replaces Bobby Benson, who returned to Johns Hopkins, his alma mater, to coordinate the Blue Jays' offense. ... The Towson men's soccer team won its first two games and tied another for its best start since 1998 when it was 3-0. ... UMBC's Pete Caringi is scheduled to coach his 500th men's soccer game, today at Drexel.

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