With time expired, Mark Orlando caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Dan Crowley to give Towson State a dramatic 33-32 victory over Northeastern yesterday.
Most of the Minnegan Stadium crowd of 1,687 assumed Northeastern had taken a 32-27 victory on quarterback Ralph Barone's 32-yard touchdown run with four seconds left.
But Orlando took the ensuing kickoff managed to lateral off just as he was about to be tackled. After a second lateral, the Tigers' Julian Blair made it down the sideline to Northeastern's 20-yard line as the final gun sounded.
In the meantime, the Northeastern bench, apparently thinking Orlando had been tackled, ran onto the field to celebrate. Officials called Northeastern for illegal participation and gave the Tigers one last play. A game can't end on a penalty by the defense.
Crowley then lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone right into the arms of Orlando.
The victory gave the Tigers a 5-4 record.
As Northeastern (5-4-1) left the field, its players were enraged.
"How can a team be allowed to throw a touchdown pass when there's no time left on the clock?" said one Husky.
L Gordy Combs, Towson's first-year head coach, had the answer.
"A game can't end on a foul by the defensive team, so Northeastern was penalized 15 yards and we were given one more play from the 10-yard line," said Combs.
"That's what we keep saying -- keep playing, keep coaching. That's what we did the last two games."
Two weeks ago, Towson recovered two onside kicks in the final two minutes, both leading to touchdowns, and the Tigers shocked Indiana of Pennsylvania, 35-33.
Towson got a tremendous performance out of running back Brian McCarty, a 193-pound sophomore from Reading, Pa. Filling in for the injured Tony Vinson, McCarty ran the ball 37 times for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
Yesterday's game was full of twists and turns. Towson ran up a 21-3 lead in the second quarter and led 21-10 at halftime.
Northeastern took its first lead with 13:12 remaining in the game on a 26-yard field goal by Henry Rogan.
Rogan, a former Northeastern soccer player who switched to football this year, kicked a Minnegan Stadium-record four field goals. They were for 28, 34, 26 and 37 yards.
Kevin Howard, who needs three catches to become Towson's all-time leading career pass receiver, had six receptions for 77 yards.
Towson's five wins are its most since it went 5-5 in 1988.