NEW YORK - They may not have the varsity experience, but Noah Read and Ray Harris already have Fordham University's number.
Replacing graduated all-time rushing and receiving leader Jason Corle, the junior duo gained 236 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns to lead Towson to a 36-13 win in the Patriot League and season opener for both teams.
Harris rushed for 120 yards on eight carries, and Read added 116 yards on 16 rushes. This after the Towson offense gained 5 yards on the ground in the first quarter.
"We have a very good offensive line, and I think it was just first-game jitters," Read said. "After the first two series, they got more relaxed."
Harris said he, Read, and the rest of the offense had to step it up, after Corle and quarterback Joe Lee both graduated.
"Ever since the Colgate game [last season], we've known we've had big shoes to fill," said Harris, who scored on 68- and 34-yard runs.
"We had to change our offense and start running the ball more until [sophomore starting quarterback Kris] Blake gets comfortable out there. The offensive line and running backs, we took it upon ourselves to take over the team."
Read made his first career start against Fordham last season, and picked up 82 yards on 24 carries in that game. Harris added 74 yards on 13 carries in that 25-23 victory.
"Last year we played without Corle out there, and we did a pretty good job," Harris said. "But this year we had something to prove to the doubters that said we couldn't fill the shoes."
At the half, Towson led 17-13, which didn't sit well with Tigers coach Gordy Combs.
"We kept hurting ourselves from an offensive perspective," Combs said. "We had some freshman jitters, we also had some mistakes that cost us in the first half."
With a new offensive backfield, Combs said he has been more patient with this team.
"We have two good running backs and we have an offensive line that can knock people off the ball," Combs said.
Blake also shook off some butterflies, and completed nine of 20 passes for 120 yards. He hit tight end Billy Hayes for a 23-yard touchdown with 9:53 left.
As fine as the offense played, Towson's defense continued to improve. The Tigers had four interceptions and three sacks, including two by Andrew Hollingsworth.
Towson safety Sporty Evans intercepted a Matt Georgia pass in the third quarter, and ran it back 62 yards for a touchdown.
Next for Towson
Site: Fisher Stadium
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m