Late field goal spoils Towson's rally, 19-17 American International makes kick with :23 to go

November 05, 1995|By Jerry Radding | Jerry Radding,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Just when Towson State thought its second-half rally would be enough to win yesterday, American International College mounted a comeback of its own.

The Tigers fell, 19-17, on a 20-yard field goal by AIC's Brian McManus with 23 seconds to play.

The loss dropped Towson's record to 5-4. It winds up its season next Saturday at home against Southern Connecticut.

It was only the second victory in eight starts for AIC, which still has two games to play.

"With a young football team like we have, it's hard to get them up for a team that's 1-6," said Towson coach Gordy Combs. "We didn't play with any emotion in the first 30 minutes and although we played pretty well in the second half, this was a good, #F well-coached team we were facing."

Trailing 16-7 at halftime, Towson capitalized on an AIC turnover to score a touchdown in the third quarter. AIC quarterback Matt Sohns was intercepted by John Bardak who ran to the AIC 4-yard line to set up the TD.

On a second running play, tailback Larry Washington scored from the 1 to put Towson within two points at 16-14.

With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, George Perdikakis booted a 36-yard goal to give Towson the lead, 17-16.

That's the way it stayed until the end, when McManus responded with the winner. It was his fourth field goal of the game, which tied a school record. His others were in the first half for 24, 42 and 33 yards.

AIC didn't get possession to launch its winning drive until 1:32 was left in the game. Sohns completed passes to Joe Gaddy and Steve Hayes, and Rashid Thomas did the running to get the Yellow Jackets in position for the winning field goal.

"If we made our fourth-down play just before that [drive], the game's over," noted Combs. "I guess this is a valuable lesson for our team."

Thomas, who ran for 142 yards, became his school's all-time leading rusher with 2,868 career yards.

After falling behind early at 7-3 after Washington completed an 80-yard drive with a 3-yard run, AIC got on top 16-7 on the three McManus field goals and a 37-yard pass play from Sohns to Gaddy. Washington, the senior transfer from Maryland, wound up with only 67 yards, one of his lowest outputs of the season.

"Washington hasn't played well lately," said Combs. "Teams key on him so much, we're forced to try other things."

Towson quarterback Kevin Smith completed 16 of 32 passes for 209 yards. Receiver Shawn Ward had four catches for 103 yards.

"Pass defense has hurt us all year," said AIC coach Art Wilkins. "But at least we didn't give up any for touchdowns."

In Towson's 80-yard drive in the first period, there were completions to Ward, Steve Szymanski and Joe Fiore. An 11-yarder to Szymanski produced a first down on the 5. Two carries later Washington scored to make it 7-3.

Towson State .. .. .. ...7 ..0 ..10 ..0 ..-- ..17

American International ..3 ..13 ..0 ..3 ..-- ..19

Next for Towson

Opponent: Southern Connecticut

Date: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Site: Minnegan Stadium

Record: 7-1

9- Yesterday: Beat Central Connecticut, 14-3

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