For the second straight week, Towson State has the opportunity to end several negative streaks.
Last Saturday's 28-21 victory over James Madison was the Tigers' first over the Dukes and their first homecoming success since 1988. It also broke a nine-game losing streak against Virginia teams.
This Saturday (1:30 p.m.), Towson State (3-4) travels to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which has beaten the Tigers five straight years and has established itself as one of the nation's premier Division II teams. The Indians (7-0) are ranked No. 2.
During the past three years, Indiana has outscored Towson State 123-10, but under first-year coach Gordy Combs, the Tigers are racking up yardage at a record pace. Towson State is averaging 434 yards, a pace far ahead of the team record of 377.1 set in 1985.
Tony Vinson, a junior transfer from Purdue, needed just seven games to better the Towson State seasonal rushing record. He has 1,029 yards on 183 carries, an average of 5.6 per carry.
Under Phil Albert, the Tigers emphasized the pass for most of the past two decades, but it's not as if Towson State has shifted from Air Albert to Ground Gordy. The Tigers have gained more yardage through the air, as Dan Crowley has thrown for 1,571 yards. He has been sacked only five times.
"We've got a lot of weapons to attack another team's defense," Combs said. "The offensive line is experienced, and when you add Tony, we've got a lot of good things going for us. We knew in the spring we could move the ball on the ground, and it was a matter of how the ingredients stacked up against the caliber of competition we're facing."
The schedule is regarded as the toughest Towson State has ever faced, and it came in a year in which the Tigers stopped offering scholarship aid to new recruits. Despite just eight senior starters, Towson State has won more than two games for the first time since 1988.
Centennial heats up
When Johns Hopkins began October by losing to Gettysburg, 13-10, the Blue Jays dropped to 2-2 overall, 1-1 in the Centennial Football Conference. At that time, then-regionally ranked Dickinson had done nothing to disprove its status as preseason favorite, and Western Maryland was also 4-0.
On Oct. 17, Western Maryland beat Dickinson, which had to come back to tie Swarthmore, 26-26, last week, when the Green Terrors were falling at Franklin & Marshall, 41-27. Western Maryland still leads with a 4-1 CFC record, but Hopkins, 3-1 in the conference and 5-2 overall after three straight victories, can gain a share of first place by beating Dickinson (2-1-1) Saturday (1:30 p.m.) at Homewood Field.
Western Maryland's defense has allowed 89 points in its two losses and 48 in its five victories.
Bowie-Howard at RFK
Howard has had overflow crowds for recent homecomings, so it has moved this year's festivities to RFK Stadium. The opponent Saturday (1 p.m.) is Bowie State, and it will be the first meeting between the two.