Towson's offense operated in a bizarre fashion yesterday, getting two touchdowns out of 566 total yards against Holy Cross. The Tigers nonetheless escaped with a 14-0 victory, thanks to a dominant effort by the defense.
"You look at the stats, and say, 'We had nearly 600 yards and scored 14 points,' " Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "I'm just happy that we got the win."
After being shut out in the first half, the Tigers (4-1, 3-0 Patriot League) left the Crusaders (1-3, 1-1) with touchdowns in each of the final two quarters. Both were touchdown passes by quarterback Joe Lee, who broke the school's single-game passing record with 481 yards on 30 completions out of 54 attempts. He surpassed Kevin Smith, who threw for 471 yards against Marist in 1996. Lee also set a Patriot League record.
Even more impressive was the Towson defense, which allowed 185 yards in pitching the school's first shutout since a 48-0 win over Southern Connecticut in 1994.
Led by Andre Atkins (13 tackles) and Andrew Hollingsworth (three sacks), the defensive unit did much of the work while the offense and special teams acted as if problems with the scoreboard (it wouldn't work) eliminated the need to score. Three times, the units allowed Holy Cross good field position by turning the ball over in the first half.
On two occasions, the Tigers put themselves in deep trouble when fumbles by Brad Chavrat and Adam Overbey (four catches, 91 yards) allowed the Crusaders to get the ball inside the Towson 35. Both times, Holy Cross had to settle for unsuccessful field-goal attempts of 31 and 46 yards.
The only drive Towson allowed was a 12-play, 53-yard affair that ended on downs when a fourth-and-one run by Michael Gillis out of the T-formation was stuffed by Atkins and Kirk Luczynski.
"You're disappointed, but also frustrated at the same time," Holy Cross coach Dan Allen said. "We had 40 snaps [in the first half] and to come away with zero points, that takes a lot out of you."
"It was just a great effort by the defense," Atkins said. "Sometimes, we need to pick up the slack for the offense."
Despite 244 total yards, and several big gains, the Tigers were held scoreless in a half for the first time this season, the product of three missed field-goal attempts by Ed Kulic every bit as much as the turnovers.
"We felt we were moving the football, but in that first quarter, we couldn't stick it in," Lee said, referring to the Tigers' movement within the Holy Cross 35 three times. "As an offense, that's where you need to excel."
Towson showed improvement even without Overbey, who was lost for the season when he broke his leg on a 5-yard pass play before the intermission. Jason Corle put the Tigers on the scoreboard with his fifth touchdown reception in as many games, a 15-yard catch with 11: 04 left in the third quarter.
Later, Rusty McKinney's interception of an Arthur Grutt pass led to a Lee-to-Jamal White connection from 37 yards out, eliminating all Holy Cross hopes with 12: 48 left in the game.
White once again went over the 200-yard mark with 212 yards on 10 catches. Justin Mattera had five catches for 82 yards, and Corle had six catches for 59 yards.
Next for Towson
Opponent: Morgan State
Site: Homewood Field
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Yesterday: Lost to Fla. A&M;, 66-10