Towson left out in cold in finale


Tigers fail to keep up with red-hot James Madison offense

November 23, 2008|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Special to The Baltimore Sun

It was cold and blustery at Johnny Unitas Stadium yesterday afternoon, but it didn't take long for James Madison to warm up its powerful offense.

The Dukes - ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision - scored on six of their first seven possessions and rolled into the division's playoff season with a 58-27 romp over Towson before an announced 5,575 chilled spectators.

After three quarters, James Madison (10-1, 8-0 Colonial Athletic Association) had established a 51-13 lead en route to its 10th consecutive win and a school record for regular-season victories. The team, which suffered its only loss at Duke in the season opener, guaranteed itself home-field advantage in postseason play until the FCS title game.

Towson, which finished 3-9 and 1-7 in the league, tried to keep pace with a passing attack led by Sean Schaefer but had no answer for the Dukes' diversity and the running of quarterback Rodney Landers (117 yards, three touchdowns) and Eugene Holloman (131 yards).

Two blocked punts, an inability to convert on third- and fourth-down plays (2-for-15) and five James Madison sacks also subverted the Tigers, who bid farewell to 10 seniors, including record setters Schaefer and wide receiver Marcus Lee.

"They showed why they're the No. 1 team in the country," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "They're very hard to stop on offense. Rodney, as a ball carrier, exposes your weakness, and all year we've had problems stopping the run."

"They've got a lot of good things going for them," added Schaefer, who had his 15th career 300-plus yard passing game and finished with 1,041 completions in 1,610 attempts for 11,644 yards, a total second to Ricky Santos of New Hampshire in CAA history. "To go undefeated in the CAA is quite a feat. They're the best team we've played all year."

Lee had six receptions to break Jamal White's school record for receptions by five.

"I'm not much of a record keeper," Lee said. "It was the guys who reminded me about it."

Said Landers, who leads the CAA in rushing and has not thrown an interception for seven games: "It wasn't a perfect game offensively. There is always something to improve on. But I'm pleased with the way we handled our business. Our goal was to win the conference, and that became a reality."

CATHOLIC 18, JOHNS HOPKINS 17:: Stevie Hendley capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:34 remaining and quarterback Keith Ricca connected with Andrew Buis on the ensuing two-point conversion as the Cardinals (9-2) beat the Blue Jays (8-3) in the ECAC Southeast Bowl at Homewood Field. Hopkins' Andrew Kase ran for 188 yards and a touchdown and passed Adam Cook (2001-2004) as the school's career rushing leader with one full season left.

SALISBURY 21, MORAVIAN 17:: The Sea Gulls (9-2) rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to defeat the host Greyhounds (8-3) in the ECAC Southwest Bowl. Ronnie Curley's 41-yard pass to D.J. Nelson early in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning score.

Baltimore Sun reporters contributed to this article.

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