James Madison, thwarted by mistakes for much of the game struck for two touchdowns within 65 seconds early in the fourth quarter, then added another in a 21-14 triumph over Towson State at Minnegan Stadium last night.
First, Joe Sparksman ran 11 yards to score with 12 minutes, 9 seconds left. Then defensive back Don Phelps picked off a pass by Rick Marsilio intended for Dewey Barnes and ran untouched 43 yards into the end zone.
The Dukes produced the eventual winning touchdown when Sparksman ended an eight-play, 85-yard yard drive by breaking off left tackle for the last 19 yards. It came with 6:53 left.
The loss was the sixth in a row for winless Towson State, equaling a school record set by the 1972 team, which finished 1-9. The win was the fourth in a row for James Madison (4-2).
Towson State, 1-5-1 against James Madison the past seven years, stunned the Dukes by going 74 yards after the opening kickoff to score in 11 plays.
Until the Tigers made a belated drive in the last six minutes, their deepest penetration after the scoring drive was the James Madison 48.
Quarterback Chris Goetz passed 5 yards to Ken Weeks in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown, and Glen Mattfeld kicked the extra point.
The key play was a 15-yard run to the James Madison 24 by Goetz on third-and-nine, after he had been chased out of a passing position.
In the drive, it took Goetz just two passes -- completions to tight end Steve Smigel and wide receiver Kevin Howard -- to become the all-time passing yardage leader in state collegiate history.
Needing 14 yards to supplant former Johns Hopkins star and current head coach Jim Margraff (6,669 yards), Goetz hit first-time starter Smigel, a 6-foot-4, 232-pound sophomore from Elkton, for 11 yards and found Howard for 7 yards two plays later.
The Tigers entered the game even in takeaways-giveaways (10-10), then had the better of the wet-night errors until Marsilio, another senior quarterback who shared time with Goetz, was intercepted for the go-ahead touchdown.
In the first half, Towson State lost one fumble, but recovered two by James Madison and intercepted two of Eriq Williams' passes.
Gary Hatcher stepped in front of Leon Taylor and returned the interception 80 yards for an apparent touchdown on the Dukes' first series, but a clipping penalty brought the ball back.
Towson State's Robbie Jackson lost the ball at his 14, but the visitors could not capitalize on it.
Towson State's Bob Meehan covered a bobble at the 9 when freshman fullback Sparksman lost the ball on a hit by Joe Kreisher, a 6-3, 225-pound sophomore making his defensive debut after starting the first five games at tight end.
James Madison made it 3-for-3 in drive-killing turnovers when the Tigers' Chad Yagodich hit Willie Lanier, and Tom Thomson recovered at the Towson State 37 early in the second quarter.
After James Madison had broken the game open, Towson State came back when Robbie Jackson crashed over from the 1 to score at 2:40.