Towson's charge not enough, 34-31

Down 24 in 3rd period, Tigers tie, but fall in 2nd OT to MacMeekin's kick

College Football

October 06, 2002|By Matt Papuchis | Matt Papuchis,SUN STAFF

ITHACA, N.Y. - Towson erased a 24-point Cornell lead with less than a minute to play in the third quarter yesterday, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion in double overtime, 34-31, at Schoellkopf Field.

After Cornell linebacker Joel Sussman blocked Ben Whitacre's field-goal attempt in the second extra period, the Big Red got the ball back, needing only a field goal to win.

After pounding the ball to the Towson 2-yard line, Cornell left former Maryland All-State high school player Trevor MacMeekin with a 19-yard field-goal attempt.

After Cornell coach Tim Pendergast watched his team's comfortable lead diminish in one quarter of play, he watched as MacMeekin, a Dulaney alumnus, sent one through the uprights, sealing Cornell's first win of the year.

"First, I need to find that little monkey that's been on my back," Pendergast said jokingly after the game. "As weak as last [Saturday's 50-14 loss to Yale] was, this was the complete opposite."

Despite the disappointing finish, Towson coach Gordy Combs was proud of the resilience the Tigers showed by recovering from such a deficit.

"We rallied around things and came back," Combs said. "Anytime it comes down to an overtime game, it's going to be one play that makes the difference. But I have a lot of respect for our football team. A lot of people would've folded up the tent when they were down 24-0."

Towson's offense, which had already scored more points (154) in its first four contests than it did in all of 2001 (149), never got rolling until the Tigers trailed 24-0 late in the third quarter. With the game seemingly out of reach, junior quarterback Jay Amer spearheaded a comeback that enabled Towson to tie the game with 2:17 left in regulation.

A third-down, roughing-the-passer call that seemed insignificant at the time shifted the momentum in Towson's favor with less than a minute to go in to third quarter.

The penalty kept the Tigers' drive alive.

On the ensuing play, Amer connected with Brandon White for a 32-yard touchdown pass to put Towson (3-2) on the scoreboard for the first time.

Towson's defense kept the Big Red out of the end zone for the rest of regulation, and Amer went on to throw two more touchdown passes.

The first three quarters was a much different story.

Using a balanced offensive attack, Cornell picked apart the Towson defense en route to 428 total yards.

Tailback Brian Ulbricht paced the Big Red's ground game, gaining a career-high 159 yards while finding the end zone once.

Cornell lost its all-time leading passer, Ricky Rahne, to graduation last spring, but senior Mick Razzano, who entered the game without having thrown a touchdown pass this season, took over for the Big Red and amassed 166 yards in the air, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Archer.

Meanwhile, a Cornell defense that had surrendered 64 points in its first two games of the season, kept the Tigers out of the end zone the entire first half, a feat that none of Towson's first four opponents of the year had accomplished.

That defense, which entered yesterday's game without an interception, picked off Amer twice.

"We beat a good football team today," Pendergast said. "So that makes us a good football team - a better football team today."

Next for Towson

Opponent:Lehigh

Site:Towson University Stadium

When:Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record:4-1

Yesterday:Beat Harvard, 36-35

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