Noah Read was great, but the game 4,817 watched at Minnegan Stadium was a mess as Towson handed Morgan State a straight-up, old-fashioned drubbing yesterday, 31-7.
Read gained 152 yards on 29 carries and 55 more on five receptions. He became the first Tiger since Tony Vinson in 1993 to have three straight 100-yard rushing games. His lone touchdown, with nine minutes remaining, put the finishing touches on the victory.
"I really wanted to come out strong this week, because the past few weeks we'd been sluggish," said Read, whose first carry - his longest of the day - went for 27 yards. "I was making sure that I came out in the first quarter, and I thought our line did a great job today."
As for the mess, where to begin? It's a mystery as to where Morgan State can find another penalty to commit. Seventeen penalties for 184 yards - everything except roughing the kicker - didn't just boggle the mind. They also pre-empted Morgan's drives and lengthened Towson's, accounting for a large part of the lopsided score.
Bears free safety Melvin Coleman acknowledged the effect - having seen an illegal block eliminate his 75-yard return of a fumble for a touchdown. But he questioned some of the causes.
"Some [calls] seemed legitimate, but there were a lot of ghost calls," said Coleman, who was about as heroic as one can imagine a player being when on the wrong side of a blowout. He made 15 tackles (12 unassisted) and intercepted two passes.
Of course, it could have been more lopsided. Towson's Kris Blake, smooth in a 19-for-28, 276-yard performance last week, looked like a quarterback who was making his third start. He threw three interceptions, balanced against two touchdown passes.
"He's only in his third start," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "He's going to make mistakes. This will probably be the best secondary we face all year."
Blake, who finished with 148 yards on 13-for-35 passing, wasn't helped by his receivers, who twice dropped balls in the end zone.
The penalties, the eight combined turnovers and the late hits at the end of every other play might have been a sign of a hard-fought football game, but even the winners agreed that it made for less than pleasurable watching.
"Not from our point of view," Towson offensive lineman John Tierney said.
Tierney was also upset that Blake was sacked for the first time this season. 'The offensive line is very disappointed," he said. "We wanted to protect him at all costs.'
Unlike the first two games of this series' renewal, the scoreboard didn't lie. The team that won this game was the one that pushed the other around, frustrating it to the point of irrational lapses. "They never stopped running their mouths," Towson defensive lineman Andrew Hollingsworth said of the Morgan team. "They're down 28-7 and they're still [talking]."
Towson had 259 yards rushing. Morgan State had 131 offensive yards, total, with its star tailback, Ali Culpepper, held to 54 yards on 18 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown that gave his team one of its few glimmers of hope.
Even then, at 12:34 of the second quarter, Morgan was only beginning to dig itself out of a hole.
Blake had thrown scoring passes to Adam Overbey and Jon Grubb, which combined with a safety to give Towson a 15-0 lead at the end of the first quarter."[The players] liked to think they could turn it on anytime they wanted," said Morgan coach Stanley Mitchell, who was ejected from the game in the early part of the third quarter for stepping onto the field to protest what he saw as roughing of his punter, Eddie Henry. "But Towson never let us get back into the game. They turned it on us."
Towson's defense, which still hasn't given up a second-half touchdown, sacked Morgan quarterback Custavious Patterson seven times and had nine sacks overall.
Morgan State 0 7 0 0 - 7
Towson 15 3 3 10 - 31
Next for Towson
Opponent: Holy Cross
Site: Fitton Field, Worcester, Mass.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Yesterday: Beat Harvard, 27-25