HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The first quarter of a Towson State football game is usually a good indication of what the next three quarters will entail. Last night was no different.
But instead of Towson, which had outscored opponents 77-7 in the first quarter, jumping to a quick lead, it was Hofstra that struck first. The Flying Dutchmen (4-3-1) scored twice in the first quarter and went on to a 40-12 victory over the Tigers (5-2) before an announced crowd of 897.
"That first series they got a big play to get them on top," said Towson coach Gordy Combs. "I felt we were on our heels all night after that. That gave them enthusiasm."
A steady downpour kept a lot of people out of Hofstra Stadium, but it didn't keep the Flying Dutchmen out of the end zone. Neither could gusting winds, a slick turf field or the Towson defense.
Towson's Tony Vinson, who gained 256 yards in a 37-18 win over Hofstra last year, was hardly a factor despite gaining 127 yards on 34 carries.
Instead, the night belonged to Hofstra sophomore tailback Hayward Cromartie, who rushed 13 times for 111 yards and three touchdowns, including two on runs of 43 and 44 yards.
Senior quarterback George Beisel threw for three scores in Hofstra's final home game of the season.
"We felt if we could stay even with them in the first quarter, it would really turn the momentum around," said Hofstra coach Joe Gardi. "They would think they were in a war."
Hofstra set the tempo on its first play when Cromartie, the only true back in Hofstra's four-receiver offense, broke through a gaping hole and ran 43 yards for a touchdown.
Towson, perhaps attempting to create a tempo of its own, blitzed both safeties on the play, which allowed Cromartie to sprint untouched to the end zone once he crossed the line of scrimmage.
"I looked at the defense and I could tell the hole was already there," said Cromartie. "Once I broke through there was no one."
Another key for Hofstra was to eliminate its turnovers. The Dutchman did and managed to capitalize on Towson's when Al-Vaughn Brown recovered Mark Orlando's fumble on a punt return. Hofstra marched 57 yards on 11 plays and extended its lead to 14-0 when Cromartie scored from 2 yards on an option play.
Cromartie struck again on Hofstra's first play in the second quarter, racing 44 yards for his third score. The extra-point attempt failed, and Hofstra led 20-0.
Towson, which came to Long Island averaging 461.3 yards of total offense, then muscled its way downfield, and Vinson scored from 1 yard out to cap a 12-play, 92-yard drive. Towson fumbled the snap on the extra-point attempt, and it was 20-6.
"We didn't want to give Vinson the big play," said Gardi. "We weren't going to give him 200 yards like we did last year. Our goal was to stop him on first down."
Any momentum Towson may have gained was was lost on Hofstra's next play from scrimmage, as Beisel connected with senior wide receiver Ken Colon for a 72-yard touchdown pass, making it 26-6 after an extra-point miss.
NEXT FOR TOWSON: DELAWARE
When: Saturday, at Newark, Del.
Yesterday: Beat Maine, 21-19, as Norman Coleman rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown.