LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Towson State quarterback Dan Crowley completed 33 of 55 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns, and Tigers wide receiver Mark Orlando burned the Bucknell secondary for 200 yards on 10 catches (including two of the scoring throws), becoming Towson's all-time receiving yardage leader in the process.
But Bucknell's special teams play proved to be the difference as the Patriot League Bison (3-2) handed the Tigers their second straight loss, 41-28, in front of 2,710 fans at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium yesterday.
A blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, two Towson fumbles on kickoff returns and a big return of the opening kick of the second half added up to 28 points for Bucknell and that, said Towson coach Gordy Combs, was the key.
"The two fumbles on the kickoffs resulted in scores for them and we had the punt blocked in the first quarter -- that's the difference in the game," said Combs.
The Tigers (3-2) led early, after Brian McCarty capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive by running the ball in from the 2 with 5:34 to play in the opening period.
Towson's offense was clicking in the early going, with Crowley completing 10 of the first 11 passes he threw.
Through the Tigers first three possessions, it looked like the only way Towson could be stopped was to self-destruct. A shotgun snap over Crowley's head on third-and-six at the Bucknell 28 stalled the Tigers' first drive, and following their touchdown march, it was a dropped pass that stopped the Tigers' next drive.
Then came the first breakdown on special teams. After Crowley's completion streak was halted by the drop, Towson was forced into punt formation at its 12-yard line with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
Bucknell's Mike King came in untouched from the left side to block Ben Gossard's punt, scooping up the loose ball himself on its first bounce in the end zone for a Bison touchdown.
To that point, Bucknell's offense had not crossed midfield.
On the ensuing kickoff, Maurice Sydnor coughed up the ball at the Towson 30, and Wally Hurdley recovered to set the Bison offense up deep in Towson territory.
Three plays later, on the last play of the quarter, Bob Horst bulled into the end zone from the 1 and Bucknell had the lead, even though Towson had better than doubled Bucknell in total offense yards (146 yards to 65 yards) in the first quarter.
That was a trend that would continue all game long. Towson finished with 418 yards of offense to 352 for Bucknell. But those numbers don't get posted on the scoreboard.
Trailing 21-7, the Tigers rallied to tie it at the half. Crowley hit Orlando on scoring passes of 72 and 21 yards to pull Towson even.
But on the opening kickoff of the second half, the Tigers had another special teams breakdown. Bucknell's Troy White fumbled the reception, then picked up the loose ball and ran it to the Bison 48, once again giving Bucknell good field position.
Six plays later Bucknell quarterback Rob Glus, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 152 yards, found John Sakowski on a crossing pattern for his second touchdown toss of the game and a 28-21 Bucknell lead.
The ensuing kickoff was like an instant replay of the one that led to Bucknell's second score. Bucknell's Terence Parham walloped Paul Hall to force a fumble that the Bison's John Caldwell fell on at the Towson 34.
This time it took Bucknell four plays to score, with sophomore tailback Rich Lemon carrying it in from the 4.
"We came back to tie it up and then they take the opening kickoff of the second half and bring it out for good field position. They knock it in and then we go ahead and fumble the ensuing kickoff. It's hard to come back from that," said Combs.
Lemon, Bucknell's backfield workhorse, finished with 152 yards zTC on 35 carries, extending his school-record streak of 100-yard rushing games to nine over two seasons.
NEXT FOR TOWSON
Who: American International
When: Oct. 22, at Minnegan Stadium
1% Yesterday: Lost to Ithaca, 17-13.