Towson overcomes turnovers, Morgan State, 29-26

Tigers turn it over 7 times but rally from 13-point hole to win on field goal at :01

September 02, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Sophomore Ron Halbruner kicked a 29-yard field goal with one second left to lift Towson University to a dramatic, come- from-behind, 29-26 victory over Morgan State in the season opener for both teams before 6,527 at Johnny Unitas Stadium last night.

Halbruner endured three called timeouts by the visiting Bears before finishing off Morgan State, which gave up 16 unanswered points after taking a 26-13 lead midway through the third quarter.

Towson, which got 141 yards rushing and a touchdown from sophomore running back Nick Williams, suffered plenty before pulling out the win. The Tigers committed seven turnovers and had a punt blocked while committing nine penalties. Freshman quarterback Sean Schaefer, who threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles.

But Schaefer was good enough when it counted. He led a 55-yard drive in the third quarter, which he completed with a 6-yard scoring run to close Morgan's lead to 26-19 with 3:59 in the quarter. Then, early in the fourth quarter, he completed a 46-yard march by connecting with sophomore receiver Paul Perry on a 24-yard score. Halbruner kicked the extra point to tie the score at 26-26 with 11:52 left in the game.

The Tigers" final possession began with 2:11 left, and Towson drove 42 yards to the Morgan 12, before Halbruner made the winning kick.

Morgan State took a 20-13 halftime lead, mainly by capitalizing on two turnovers by Schaefer, who showed some rookie jitters by coughing up a fumble and throwing an interception that led to touchdowns.

Towson had the ball for just 11:35 of the first half, yet manufactured two touchdowns and a 13-7 lead with big plays and short drives. After Morgan tailback Craig Nelson scored the first of his two, first-half touchdowns on a 3 -yard run to give the Bears a 7-0 advantage with 5:59 left in the first quarter - three plays after Schaefer lost a fumble after suffering his second straight sack - the Tigers got a gift.

With Morgan State backed up in its own end zone, Bears punter Earl Johnson leaped to grab a high snap near the back of the end zone and tried to run for the first down. He was dragged down a yard short at the Morgan 11, and the Tigers needed just three plays to even the score at 7-7. Schaefer, with plenty of time to scan the field, found wide receiver Andrae Brown open for an 11-yard score with 1:06 left in the quarter.

Two possessions later, Towson took its only lead of the half with a one-play drive. Sophomore running back Nick Williams slashed off left tackle, cut back into the wide-open middle of the field, then outran three Bears defender to complete a 69-yard touchdown run with 13:06 remaining in the half.

But Morgan State, with Nelson, a big offensive line and the shifty Byron Selby running the offense, kept on coming.

After the Bears" 46-yard drive stalled at the Towson 35 midway through the quarter, Morgan State made its next two chances count over the final five minutes of the half. The defense got it going, when end Temi Omotade picked off an ill-advised shovel pass by Shaefer, giving Morgan State the ball at the Towson 48.

After Selby scrambled out of trouble, then found wide-out Jai Wilson for a 37-yard completion, Nelson ran untouched for a 10-yard score off left tackle with 3:41 left. Nathan Keever kicked the extra point, giving the Bears a 14-13 lead.

The Bears then got the ball back on downs and took the lead with a five-play drive. Selby started it off by connecting with senior tight end Chris Cash for 41 yards. Four plays later, with eight seconds left in the half, Selby found senior wide-out Kelvin Dickens on a 7-yard slant-in for the score that made it 20-13.

Morgan State 7 13 6 0-26

Towson 7 6 6 10-29

First quarter MSU-Nelson 3 run (Keever kick), 5:59. Tow-Brown 11 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 1:06. Second quarter Tow-Williams 69 run (kick failed), 13:06. MSU-Nelson 10 run (Keever kick), 3:41. MSU-Dickins 7 pass from Selby (run failed), :08 Third quarter MSU-Jackson 14 run (kick failed), 7:34. Tow-Schaefer 6 run (kick blocked), 3:59. Fourth quarter Tow-Perry 24 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 11:52. Tow-FG Halbruner 29, :01. A-6,527.

Morgan Towson

First downs 13 22

Rushes-yards 42-113 33-112

Passing 151 344

Comp-Att-Int 16-31-1 26-41-4

Return Yards 118 93

Punts-Avg. 9-33.2 4-28.8

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 4-3

Penalties-Yards 5-50 9-76

Time of Possession 31:39 28:08 Rushing-Morgan State, Nelson 20-76, Jackson 13-39, Johnson 1-4, Selby 8-(minus 6). Towson, Williams 19-141, McClaude 7-8, Brown 1-(minus 11), Schaefer 6-(minus 26). Passing-Morgan State, Selby 16-31-151-1. Towson, Schaefer 26-41-344-4. Receiving-Morgan State, Wolfe 3-29, Dickens 3-18, Jackson 3-16, Napper 3-10, Wilson 2-33, Cash 1-41, Nelson 1-4. Towson, Brown 6-88, Arnold 6-71, Yancey 5-62, Lee 5-47, Perry 1-24, Alexander 1-24, Harrison 1-20, Williams 1-8.

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