42-point Towson rally not enough Tigers come from 27 down on 6 TDs in second half, but FG lifts Dayton, 43-42

November 08, 1998|By Bucky Albers | Bucky Albers,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DAYTON, Ohio -- In preparation for its game with the University of Dayton, Towson stopped Friday at Morgantown, W. Va., and practiced onside kicks, among other things, on the AstroTurf surface at the University of West Virginia.

"We practice it every Friday," coach Gordy Combs said.

The Tigers, however, discovered that no amount of practice can prepare them for the strange bounces of a football, especially on an artificial surface.

After Towson wiped out a 27-point halftime deficit with a 42-point outburst in the second half, Dayton's Mike Pulsfort kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to defeat the Tigers, 43-42, yesterday at Welcome Stadium.

A successful onside kick by the Flyers made it possible.

With senior quarterback Kevin Smith throwing five touchdown passes and junior running back Jason Corle rushing for 160 yards, Towson capitalized on three Dayton fumbles to take a 35-34 lead with 2: 47 remaining.

And when Corle scored his third touchdown of the day with 1: 28 to play, Towson was ahead, 42-34, and seemingly headed toward a second come-from-behind victory in as many weeks.

Rallying behind reserve quarterback Patrick McLaughlin, Dayton bounced back with a quick touchdown, cutting the deficit to 42-40 with 28 seconds remaining.

It looked like Towson had sealed the victory when the Tigers stopped Dayton tailback Jimmy Lee short of the goal line on a two-point conversion run. In fact, some of the Tigers had begun celebrating.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, Dayton recovered an onside kick that bounced off the shin of Towson's Mike Deal.

The Flyers advanced from their 43 to the Towson 24 with two sideline passes that stopped the clock and a short run.

Pulsfort, who had been unsuccessful on all three attempts beyond 40 yards this season, converted the 41-yarder to give Dayton the victory.

The Towson players were stunned as they walked off the field.

Combs' halftime talk must have awakened the Tigers because they played like a different team in the second half.

"What we talked about was character and pride," Combs said. "I told them it was probably the worst 30 minutes of football in my 29 years of association with our football program. I told them we were better than that."

The Tigers took the message to heart.

Unable to move the football in the first half, they tore through the Dayton defense for 354 yards in the second.

"We went to our spread, which is our four-receiver offense, and we ran the ball a little out of that," Combs said. "We noticed early in the game that when we ran the spread, they would vacate the box and only have five people in the box."

Dayton answered the Tigers' first touchdown of the second half, but then it was all Towson as a crowd of 8,802 watched in disbelief.

The Flyers assisted Towson by fumbling a punt and a kickoff to give the Tigers excellent field position.

Smith, who completed 23 of 41 passes for 285 yards, threw touchdown passes to Anthony Maglionico, Deal and Corle (twice) before connecting on a 55-yarder to Adam Overbey to take the lead.

9- Then Dayton made its improbable comeback.

Next for Towson

Opponent: Drake

Site: Minnegan Stadium

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 7-2

=1 Yesterday: Lost to St. Mary's, Calif., 27-21.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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