With neither team mounting much of an offense, the sloppy revival of the Towson-Morgan State series was a refreshing contrast to the one-sided affairs that marked the series when it paused in 1994.
Towson had won the previous two meetings by an average score of 49-10, but last night neither team was able to dominate as the Tigers pulled out a 15-10 victory in front of 8,056 at Minnegan Stadium.
The crowd was the largest in stadium history. The Towson-Morgan State game on Oct. 12, 1982 had drawn 6,835.
Towson was scarcely able to cope with Morgan State's running game, but the Bears were often unable to cope with themselves, wasting several opportunities with penalties. The Bears were flagged 14 times for 137 yards.
"That's all part of the game. I'd rather play bad and win the game than lose," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "We wanted to make it a defensive struggle."
Having squandered its opportunities and trailing 15-3 at halftime, Morgan State displayed an increased amount of focus on its first drive of the second half, moving 72 yards on eight plays with Ali Culpepper scoring on a 2-yard run with 9: 35 remaining in the third quarter.
Two late chances for the Bears were telling. One fourth-quarter drive into Towson territory was stopped on downs and the final opportunity was backed up by a holding penalty and a sack on fourth down by the Tigers' Eric Erhardt.
While allowing 234 rushing yards and several big plays, the Tigers were pleased.
"Every time out there, it was a gut check," said Towson's Aaron Sakevich, whose previous college experience consisted of four junior varsity games. "It says a lot about us not being quitters."
Towson, which began the game efficiently on offense and took a 13-3 lead, bogged down thereafter, moving the chains for first downs only twice in the second and third quarters.
Jason Corle, who gained 79 yards on 28 carries, looked in midseason form on the Tigers' first possession, running outside for 9 yards on one play, taking a screen pass for 7 on another, then diving in from 2 yards out to put Towson ahead 6-0 with 10: 15 left in the first quarter.
After holding Morgan State to a field goal to stop a 63-yard drive, the Tigers got an 88-yard kickoff return from Dennis Cleggett to the Morgan 7 and a sneak by Kevin Smith made it 13-3.
Towson got its final points of the first half on a safety early in the second quarter. On third-and-18 from the 15, a snap from a shotgun formation sailed over the head of the Bears' Donald Green, who managed to chase the ball and kick it out of the end zone.
Next for Towson
Site: Kessler Field, West Long Branch, N.J.
When: Sept. 12, 1 p.m.
Next for Morgan
Site: Hughes Stadium
When: Sept. 12, 1: 30 p.m.
Pub Date: 9/04/98