PHILADELPHIA -- When Towson University quarterback Kevin Smith fell to the Franklin Field turf in exhaustion last night in the final seconds of a 26-14 loss to the University of Pennsylvania, the physical beating was complete.
The bigger Quakers from the Ivy League just overpowered the Tigers most of the evening, sending one Towson player after another limping off the field in pain.
Even Towson's senior defensive leader Jim Colongo left the game late in the third quarter with a compound dislocated ring finger on his left hand and never returned.
Colongo had 12 tackles, one interception, forced a fumble and broke up a pass before heading off to the hospital for precautionary measures.
Smith (27-for-51, 236 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions), Colongo and sophomore running back Jason Corle took several hard hits, but all of them believed Towson could have won the game if the Tigers had come ready to play.
Instead, it was Penn (1-2) that came through with one big play after another on the way to its first victory of the season.
Penn quarterback Matt Rader (20-for-29, 273 yards, two interceptions) set the tone for the Quakers when he tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brian Bonanno for a 10-0 lead with 4: 37 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers (1-4) have lost four games in three weeks, including one off the field this week.
Towson had to forfeit a victory over Holy Cross because it used an academically ineligible player in the Sept. 13 game.
Towson coach Gordy Combs and his players insisted that the forfeit didn't affect their play last night, but the Tigers didn't seem to have the same fire they displayed in the first two games of the season -- wins over Monmouth and Holy Cross.
Colongo said: "We put that forfeit out of our minds. You can't let one game affect you too much or you'll never accomplish anything. We lost because our offense didn't make some big plays and our defense made a few mistakes."
Towson scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Corle and a two-point conversion pass from Smith to Clint Carpenter with 5: 26 left in the game to reduce Penn's lead to 24-8.
Then the Tigers' Drew Interdonato recovered an onside kick at the Towson 46, setting up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Adam Overbey with 1: 44 remaining to make it 24-14.
Smith was hit and fumbled on a two-point conversion attempt, however, with Penn's Joey Piela recovering and running all the way for two points for the Quakers to make it 26-14.
Next for Towson
Opponent: Robert Morris
Site: Minnegan Stadium
When: Oct. 18, 1 p.m.
Yesterday: Beat Wagner, 21-9
Pub Date: 10/05/97