Charles Nailen/The Hoya Georgetown closes its season Saturday against league foe Towson.

About a month ago, during their homecoming weekend, the Towson Tigers played host to the Bucknell Bison. The Bison were looking for their first Patriot League win of the year, and the Tigers’ 2-1 league record put them second in the conference.

After 30 minutes of play, the game was knotted at seven. On the opening drive of the second half, Towson junior linebacker Steve Hessler picked off a pass by Bucknell senior quarterback Todd Wenrich. Hessler made for the end zone and never looked back.

Since that 20-14 victory over Bucknell, Towson has gone 0-2 against league rivals. The team’s 3-3 conference record leaves them out of the championship hunt, while the two teams that most recently defeated Towson – Colgate on Oct. 26 and Fordham last weekend – are in contention for the automatic NCAA playoff bid given to the Patriot League champion.

With nothing to gain or lose, the Tigers (6-4 overall) will open the doors of Towson Stadium to the Hoyas tomorrow.

The Tigers have defeated the Hoyas twice, most recently in a 27-9 victory in Washington, D.C. last autumn. This Saturday, the Georgetown defense will focus primarily on stopping Towson’s running game. Junior tailback Matt Romeo averaged 4.9 yards per carry last weekend and has eight rushing touchdowns in ten games this season.

The success of the defense rests on the Hoya offense’s ability to hold the ball and use up time on the clock. Against Colgate, Georgetown’s defense saw nearly 40 minutes of playing time, which contributed to fatigue and gave the Hoyas little chance for a late-game comeback.

Georgetown’s air and ground games will both face a strong Towson defensive line, led by sophomore linebacker P.D. Moore. oore was named Patriot League defensive player of the week after the Tigers’ 23-19 victory over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in week six. He has had 72 total tackles on the year, including nine tackles for a loss.

The Hoyas hope to improve their third-down conversion rate, which was 3-of-11 against the Raiders. “We need to do better on third down so we can avoid fourth-and-long situations,” Head Coach Bob Benson said. On the season, Georgetown has converted only 27 percent of the time.

Towson suffered many of the same problems against Fordham last weekend that Georgetown often experiences. The Rams scored on their first three possessions of the game while the Tigers failed to produce any offense, leaving Towson in a 28-0 hole at halftime. And though Romeo led the team with 71 yards in 13 plays, including one that ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to open the second half, the Tigers’ defense failed to restrain the Rams’ junior tailback Kirwin Watson. Fordham matched both of Towson’s second half touchdowns, and the game ended 42-14.

Both teams are slow starters, as points-per-quarter data compiled over the course of the season indicates. The Hoyas have scored 118 of their 166 points in the second half, with 69 coming in the final 15 minutes of the game. The Tigers peak in the third quarter, during which they have scored 90 of their 269 points.

In all likelihood, this will be Georgetown’s last trip to Towson for quite some time. After the 2003 season, during which the Tigers will visit Washington to battle the Hoyas, they are joining the Atlantic 10 Football Conference. Their new league opponents will include Delaware, James Madison, Richmond, Villanova and William & Mary.

Still confident after a two-game winning streak and a respectable loss to first place Colgate, Georgetown is eager to visit Baltimore for its final game of the year. “We’re looking forward to it,” Benson said. “This is a changed football team from two months, even two weeks ago, and we’re ready for the challenge.”

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