EASTON, Pa. - It appears the Towson University Tigers have learned how to win, and win big, at least against the Patriot League's weaker teams.
They showed that yesterday with a 42-20 rout of Lafayette College, the last-place team in the league's preseason poll. Towson opened the previous week with a 36-13 win against Fordham, which was rated next to last in the poll.
Sophomore Kris Blake solidified his hold on the quarterback job by throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another against Lafayette. Blake completed 19 of 28 passes and did not throw an interception.
Tailback Noah Read had his second straight 100-yard performance, churning out 124 yards on 19 carries while hauling in one of Blake's touchdown tosses. And senior wide receiver Adam Overbey caught scoring passes of 31 and 60 yards, puncturing a Leopards defense that was geared to stop Jamal White, Towson's All-America receiver candidate.
All of them helped to spoil the head coaching debut of Frank Tavani, who took over the Leopards this year after 13 years as a staff assistant.
Despite the show of firepower, the Tigers (2-0, 2-0) suffered at times from what coach Gordy Combs called "a lack of concentration."
Towson managed to nurse a slender 22-20 lead through the third quarter before pulling away from the Leopards (0-1, 0-1) with 20 unanswered points.
"It's attention to detail," Combs said. "I think there's a tendency when you beat somebody so convincingly, sometimes there's a little let-up."
Early on, it appeared the Tigers were going to romp. On their first possession, Blake drove Towson 49 yards in six plays to an opening score, a 19-yard toss to Read.
But the Leopards replied with a 33-yard Chad Ritchie to Jim Dietz hookup, followed by a 35-yard field goal from Martin Brecht to take a 10-7 first-quarter lead.
"We blew assignments," Towson defensive end Andrew Hollingsworth said. "We weren't playing assignment football. We're a good position team, and we can play hard for four quarters."
The teams swapped touchdowns, with Overbey snagging his first scoring catch, a well-placed ball from Blake that dropped into his hands over a pair of Lafayette defenders.
The Leopards regained the lead, 17-14, on a 64-yard run by Bill Stocker. But Hollingsworth spun the momentum back toward the Tigers late in the second quarter when he nailed Ritchie in the end zone for a safety.
Towson took the ensuing punt and drove 57 yards in eight plays. It was a 4-yard keeper by Blake that put the Tigers in the lead for good.
But the Leopards stayed close for another quarter before being worn down by the Tigers' defense.
"Our defense went through a slump at one point," Blake said, "and I guess you could say our offense did, too. But we're capable of scoring at any time. We had a couple of misfires, but every time we come back, we expect to come back down the field."
Next for Towson
Opponent: Morgan State
Site: Minnegan Stadium
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Yesterday: Lost to Fla. A&M;, 56-25.