Towson escapes Morgan, 20-17, on Kulic's kick in OT

Bears force overtime on penalty call, but fall on 1st series of downs

College Football

September 30, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The mistakes that have hurt the Towson University football team during much of the early season made an appearance again last night at Morgan State, but the Tigers were able to work around them this time.

Strong running from senior Noah Read, another perfect outing from kicker Ed Kulic and a game-ending defensive play in overtime carried the Tigers past Morgan, 20-17, to spoil the Bears' first home game under the lights at Hughes Stadium.

A crowd of 7,418 watched Kulic kick an 18-yard field goal, his second of the game, on the Tigers' overtime possession that started at the Bears' 25.

Towson's defense made it stand up, forcing a fumble by Ali Culpepper that was recovered by sophomore linebacker Steve Hessler on the Bears' first play to give the Tigers (2-2) their second overtime win of the season.

Read finished the night with 103 yards on 22 carries, scoring both of the Tigers' rushing touchdowns and adding five catches for 80 yards. Kulic is now 8-for-8 for the season in field-goal attempts and the Tigers 2-for-2 in overtime.

Despite nine penalties for 90 yards, two lost fumbles and an early dropped pass on third down, the Tigers stayed the course and responded favorably in the crunch. Senior cornerback Speedy Evans also played big on special teams, with two blocked field goals.

"We did a great job of keeping our poise. A lot of things went against us, but we were able to hang in there and get the job done," said Towson coach Gordy Combs.

Morgan fell to 0-4 for the season. After a poor showing in its first-ever game at newly renovated Hughes Stadium last week -- a humbling, 41-15 loss to Howard -- the Bears responded with a resilient effort last night only to fall short again.

"When I look at the game we played, in my mind, we had things going in the first half, but we had opportunities we didn't cash in," said Morgan coach Stanley Mitchell. "We wanted to pound the ball and control the clock to keep their offense off the field."

Ironically, a penalty on the Bears helped the home team force overtime. With no timeouts left, kicker Jonathan Vorosholin ran onto the field with 22 seconds remaining, and the Bears were flagged for a false start to stop the clock with 1.4 seconds left.

That allowed Vorosholin to get off a successful 35-yard kick to tie the game at 17.

After Morgan took a 14-10 lead on a touchdown by Culpepper from eight yards -- a personal foul by the Tigers on fourth down gave the Bears a second chance at the Tigers' 13 -- Towson answered with an eight-play, 74-yard drive, with Read accounting for 66 yards, including his second score from two yards out for a 17-14 lead with 2:28 left.

"I wanted to get our team going this week," Read said. "I didn't want to have to be the person to win the game, but I gave them that chance. I think our offense came together today. We had a couple mix-ups, but we got the ball in the end zone like we wanted to do and I think we played great today."

Morgan, which used its first two timeouts on defense in the third quarter, used converted wide receiver T.J. Stallings (143 yards on 19 carries) on the ground, as Culpepper was used sparingly in the second half because of a bad shoulder.

The Bears got to the 12-yard line before the false start pushed them back to the 17 with one second left, allowing Vorosholin time to kick the tying field goal.

Going into the game, both coaches said a good start would be vital to not only gain confidence, but to keep the other team down.

On their first possession, the Bears opened with play action -- quarterback Lejominick Washington finding wideout Amand Walters down the left sideline for a 47-yard gain to Towson's 27 -- before Culpepper went to work on the ground.

Culpepper carried the ball five straight times, completing a 74-yard opening drive with a 14-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.

The Bears had a chance to add to the lead on their next possession, but Washington fumbled at the Towson 1 after a hit by cornerback Jairus Johnson, with the Tigers' Juston Yelverton recovering to put an end to a 16-play drive that started at the Morgan 6.

The same mistakes that proved costly in its17-9 loss to Holy Cross last week came back to hurt the Tigers' offense early last night.

A dropped pass ended Towson's first drive and a fumble by quarterback Val Troiani shut down the second, but the Tigers were able to get the game even when Read scored off right tackle from 2 yards with 9:33 left in the first half. The key play in the 71-yard drive came on first-and-25 at the Towson 26 when Troiani found Joey Galloway across the middle for a 38-yard gain to the Morgan 36.

Troiani was 16-for-27 for 239 yards.

Sun staff writer Adam S. Reisinger contributed to this article.

Towson 0 7 0 10 3 -- 20

Morgan State 7 0 0 10 0 -- 17

Next for Morgan

Opponent: North Carolina A&T

Site: Hughes Stadium

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Record: 3-0

Yesterday: Beat Norfolk State, 43-0

Next for Towson

Opponent: Bucknell

Site: Mathewson Stadium, Lewisburg, Pa.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 2-1

Yesterday: Beat St. Mary's (Calif.), 38-6

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