Knee injury ends record season of Tigers' Vinson

November 02, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

The greatest comeback victory in the history of Towson State football was marred by a season-ending injury to record-setting tailback Tony Vinson.

The Tigers, who trailed 20-0 in the first quarter and 33-13 early in the fourth, scored 22 points in the final 5:34 to beat host Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 35-33. They rallied without Vinson, a junior who injured his right knee on a short gain late in the first quarter.

Vinson was to be examined today. Coach Gordy Combs said that it appeared that Vinson damaged the medial collateral ligament, and that he will not play again this season.

"In talking to [trainer] Terry O'Brien, we feel that's what the injury is," Combs said. "He won't play anymore this year, but T.O. [O'Brien] said he'll be back next spring and that this injury might not affect his speed."

Vinson, a transfer from Purdue, was coming off a 264-yard day against James Madison that was a single-game record at Towson State and also pushed him past the Tigers' single-season record. He was closing in on Princeton's Keith Elias, the NCAA Division I-AA rushing leader, before the injury.

Vinson was hurt on his sixth carry, and the 20 yards he gained in the game pushed his school-record season total to 1,049.

Vinson entered the game with a sprained and heavily wrapped right wrist, and the first of his two fumbles was returned for a 29-yard touchdown that put the then-unbeaten Indians, Division II's No. 2 team, up 14-0.

Brian McCarty, Towson State's second-leading rusher, had suffered a minor concussion on the opening kickoff. He returned late in the second quarter, however, after John Swigart left the game with a shoulder injury.

"Our kids could have packed up their tents in the second quarter and gone home, but they didn't," said Combs, the Tigers' first-year coach. "We don't travel with a lot of offensive backs, but our offensive line shifted right to the passing game, and a lot of people stepped up and contributed big plays that kept us going."

The fourth-quarter comeback featured the recovery of onside kicks by Russell Stoner and Mark McConnell.

It was the biggest comeback victory in Towson State's 24-year history. In the 1976 NCAA Division III championship game, the Tigers trailed St. John's (Minn.) 28-0 with 12:43 left, but came back to tie the game at 28, only to lose, 31-28, on a last-minute field goal.

Towson State (4-4) has a week off before facing Northeastern at Minnegan Stadium on Nov. 14. The Tigers, who finish at Delaware on Nov. 21, could record their first winning season since they moved up to Division I-AA in 1987.

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