Fun flies when Tigers, Hofstra meet

Phil Jackman

September 28, 1992|By Phil Jackman

It was about midway through the third period when an officials' timeout was called, which only goes to prove even zebras can't gallop on indefinitely.

Welcome to another edition of "Minnegan Madness," Towson State's contribution to the fine art of football, college variety.

The Orioles and Red Sox weren't the only guys playing a doubleheader here Saturday evening; the Tigers and the Flying Dutchmen of Hofstra University were getting together for their annual mockery of defensive football.

Last year, these two launched 128 passes in a game that started in bright sunlight and ended in near darkness. This trip, they apparently sought to reverse the procedure as the opening kickoff was airborne at dusk, and the second quarter alone gave indication the contest might go on until dawn. None of the 2,000 in attendance would have minded.

Hofstra put the ball in play more than a hundred times; Towson was in the mid-90s. It all added up to more than 1,120 yards of total offense, more "big" plays than you see on a typical Sunday afternoon in front of the television and a 37-18 win for the home team.

From the outset it was apparent the teams weren't into conservative, close-to-the-vest, slug-it-out-in-the-trenches football. Second-and-two and third-and-one situations were consistently met with pass plays -- usually successful and usually good for a dozen or 17 yards.

Towson started out with the ball and moved it 50 yards and punted. Hofstra took it and went 80. Then it was 48 yards forward for the Tigers and 44 yards the other way for the Dutchmen, plus punts. Then it was 74 and 33 for the rivals as the first quarter ended.

Together the teams had run, jumped, hurdled, shot-putted, passed and kicked the ball the length of several football fields and the game was scoreless. Yes sir, a good old down home defensive struggle.

Hofstra, under the expert handling of George Beisel, who as late as the middle of the week was the third-string quarterback, operated from a spread and no-huddle. Rarely did he allow more than 10 seconds to come off the 25-second game clock.

Against this hell's-a-poppin' offense, however, Towson had the answer with its bend-bend-bend but don't break defense and one Tony Vinson. Dan Crowley of the Tigers would have been only too happy to launch four dozen aerials as counterpart Beisel did, but then junior tailback Vinson was continually ripping off runs of 20 yards or so, assuring TSU offensive balance.

Vinson ended up carrying the ball 29 times, and among his school-record 255 yards rushing were forays measuring 65, 22, 17 and 13 in the first half alone. Anything under 6 yards, he threw back.

Meanwhile, the visitors had a couple of rushers named Jeff Becchetti and Al Hagofsky, who combined for 90 yards in just nine tries in the first half. The numbers boggle the mind. Hofstra had 310 yards in the first two quarters and trailed. Vinson had 147 yards rushing, a third of it on his own.

Still, with all this movement back and forth, the first score didn't come until five minutes into the second half. After both teams had missed field goals and otherwise frittered away golden opportunities, Vinson took a handoff in from the 5-yard line. He could have run to Charles Street, so totally faked out were the Hofstra defenders on the play.

The flood gates were open. Towson scored again when wideout Kevin Howard took a punt back 45 yards. The Dutchmen first went 61 yards in six plays, then 78 yards in seven, the two drives requiring just 4:16. Remember, these guys are in a permanent two-minute drill.

Towson's 14-12 halftime lead was the result of the Hofstra place-kicker perhaps thinking the idea was to kick conversions under the crossbar.

Despite another raft of exciting plays covering 27, 23, 22 and 20 yards, only a field goal, belonging to Towson, occurred over the next 17 minutes of playing time. Then, with dramatic suddenness (is there any other kind?), Crowley fed Mark Orlando a slant-in bullet and the receiver was in the end zone before any Hofstra defender noticed.

As opposed to last year, when the Tigers seemed to shun killing the clock only to end up losing, 30-26, they did a great job of sticking to the ground. Brian McCarty got Towson's fourth touchdown with a bold, 37-yard sprint down the left sideline.

Before the last two razzle-dazzle Towson scores, Hofstra actually held a one-point lead as long as it took an official to detect a Dutchman holding while Beisel was unloading a 37-yard scoring pass to Wayne Chrebet.

Thought to be exhausted after staging what equaled the Second Battle of Bull Run -- at least the audience was limp -- this madcap duo saved the best for last. In little more than three minutes, Hofstra drove 74 yards to make it 30-18, Towson recovered an onside kick and scored immediately on a 52-yard pass play from Matt Brimigion to Brian Roberts and the Dutchmen covered 76 yards in three plays and 27 seconds, coming to rest 11 yards from the end zone at the final gun.

In order to get the final team and individual statistics out in reasonable amount of time, Towson's crack sports publicity department called in reinforcements from the school's math department.

A total of 14 players shared in the 45 passes completed. Some 538 yards rushing was accomplished by 11 players. Ten players returned punts and kickoffs and about a hundred players were credited with tackles, assists, interceptions, fumble recoveries, sacks and other bric-a-brac. The teams combined for 52 first downs, no doubt prompting at least one member of the chain gang to seriously consider retirement.

Thing is, Towson gets to do it again Saturday night against Liberty University, same time (7 p.m.), same stadium. Bring your own calculator.

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