`Spark' gone, Towson humbled by Hofstra

Tigers' Schaefer held to career-low 123 passing yards

Hofstra 20 Towson 3

October 14, 2007|By Matt Papuchis | Matt Papuchis,Special to the Sun

After two consecutive weeks in which the game came down to the final play, there was no opportunity for any of Sean Schaefer's last-second heroics yesterday.

The Towson quarterback, who orchestrated last week's comeback win against Richmond that garnered national attention, was forced into two interceptions in the second half, the second of which led to 66-yard touchdown run by Kareem Huggins with a little more than two minutes left that put the exclamation point on a 20-3 Hofstra win before 7,856 at Unitas Stadium.

Schaefer was limited to a career-low 123 yards passing - just 49 in the first half - and was sacked four times, a stark contrast to the 458 yards and three touchdown passes he put up last year against the Pride in Hempstead, N.Y. And, according to Hofstra coach Dave Cohen, that was all part of his game plan.

"That's the thing we were most concerned about after last year," he said. "You have to mix it up with a quality player like Schaefer."

Said Towson coach Gordy Combs: "I'm just concerned that we didn't compete today. I just felt there was no life in our team today. We just didn't have that spark that we needed."

Towson (3-4, 1-4 Colonial Athletic Association) had several chances to get that illusive spark, at least where the defense was concerned, forcing Hofstra (6-0, 3-0) into three turnovers.

But the Tigers could only convert one of them into points - an interception by Brian Bradford that led to the Tigers' lone score, a 37-yard field goal by Mark Bencivengo to tie the score at 3 with 7:29 left in the first half.

The other two turnovers - a fumble recovery by Drew Mack on Hofstra's opening drive and an interception by Kenny Scott (his second this season) with 4:45 left in the third quarter - only led to frustration for Combs' Tigers.

"I just felt we were lethargic and sometimes the other team creates that situation," Combs said. "They never let us get anything going. They stuffed us. Period. There's a reason they came in here undefeated."

The Pride put together its best defensive performance of the season. Hofstra held the Tigers to just 193 yards - their second-lowest output of the season - and forced three Towson turnovers in the second half. It scored on two of them in the fourth quarter - a 35-yard field goal by Rob Zarrilli with 9:12 left after Rasheed McClaude fumbled and a long score by Huggins less than seven minutes later.

"I thought that was a big turnover," Combs said of McClaude's fumble when the Tigers were driving in Hofstra territory down 10-3. "Those things kill you when you play a team that's very good. But we got to find a way to get our spark back and our sense of urgency and our competitiveness."

Huggins led Hofstra with a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Bryan Savage threw for 301 yards.

For Towson, it marks the fourth time this season it has faced a nationally ranked team - all CAA opponents. The Tigers dropped three of those four contests, but Combs is not concerned about his team's ability to regain its swagger when it travels to Colgate next week to take on a Raiders team it has never beaten.

"I'll get it back," Combs said, referring to his team's focus. "I won't have a problem getting their attention back."

Hofstra 3 0 7 10-20

Towson 0 3 0 0- 3

First quarter Hof-FG Zarrilli 21, 7:19.

Second quarter Tow-FG Bencivengo 37, 7:29.

Third quarter Hof-Huggins 4 run (Zarrilli kick), 9:08.

Fourth quarter Hof-FG Zarrilli 35, 9:12. Hof-Huggins 66 run (Zarrilli kick), 2:25. A-7,856.

Hof Tow

First downs 25 13

Rushes-yards 37-181 34-70

Passing 301 123

Comp-Att-Int 24-38-2 13-26-2

Return Yards 1 34

Punts-Avg. 5-39.0 7-38.3

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-1

Penalties-Yards 9-84 4-31

Time of Possession 31:32 28:28

RUSHING-Hofstra, Huggins 24-186, Ant.Nelson 1-11, Savage 12-(minus 16). Towson, N.Williams 17-69, McClaude 7-23, Team 1-(minus 1), Goldbeck 1-(minus 5), Schaefer 8-(minus 16). PASSING-Hofstra, Savage 24-38-2-301. Towson, Schaefer 13-26-2-123. RECEIVING-Hofstra, Sullivan 12-184, Lewis 3-40, Ant.Nelson 3-21, Benjamin 2-24, Manno 2-16, Huggins 1-8, Watts 1-8. Towson, Cegles 4-53, M.Lee 4-46, Harrison 2-11, Arnold 1-7, McClaude 1-5, N.Williams 1-1.

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