Towson's comeback falls short

Brown's school-record five TD receptions, Tigers' 28-point flurry in third not enough

Northeastern 56 Towson 41

College football

September 25, 2005|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,Special To The Sun

BROOKLINE, MASS. — They were living a dream for the better part of an otherwordly third quarter. But the other three periods resembled a nightmare for Towson, which nearly erased a 34-point deficit before falling to Northeastern, 56-41, yesterday.

The Tigers' furious comeback, in which they scored 28 points in just seven plays, couldn't undo the damage wrought by the porous defense and turnovers (two interceptions, two lost fumbles).

Still, they found a spark in the connection of freshman quarterback Sean Schaefer and junior wide-out Andrae Brown (nine catches, 222 yards), who together produced five touchdowns and set school marks for touchdown catches and throws.

That enabled the Tigers (2-2, 0-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) to make something interesting out of what was set to be an ugly blowout by Northeastern (1-3, 1-1).

"The main thing is that we kept competing," said Brown, a Milford Mill alumus, who also tied the Atlantic 10 mark for touchdown catches. "We never acted as though we were down. We acted like it was 0-0 the whole time."

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it was 41-7 early in the third quarter before they could get going.

The Tigers were toothless on both sides of the ball in the first half, allowing Northeastern to score on all seven of its first-half possessions and take a 34-7 lead.

The wreckage began on the game's opening series, which saw the Huskies march 75 yards on 10 plays, capped by an 8-yard toss from John Sperrazza to Marc Thomas.

Matters quickly worsened for the Tigers when tailback Nick Williams fumbled on their second play from scrimmage, giving the Huskies the ball on the Towson 38.

Six plays later, on third-and-eight at the 20, Sperrazza hit Anthony Riley with a swing pass and Riley walked a tightrope to the goal line. Miro Kesic's extra point made it 14-0 with 7:36 left to play in the first.

The Tigers kept Northeastern out of the end zone on their next possession but gave up a 41-yard field goal by Kesic.

On that kick, Kesic, became Northeastern's all-time leading scorer, eclipsing the old mark of 262 points set by Dave Klemic in 2000.

Kesic, a native of Serbia who is in the process of getting his U.S. citizenship, added to his total with his second field goal, a 20-yarder that made it 20-0 with 13:01 left in the half.

Towson finally hit the scoreboard when Schaefer led the Tigers on a nine-play drive covering 80 yards, that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown throw to Brown. That brought Towson to within 20-7.

But Northeastern scored twice more before the end of the half and again early in the third quarter.

The Tigers were given new life when Brown took a short screen pass from Schaefer and jetted 71 yards to the end zone, making it 41-14.

Then, on the next series, the Towson defense made its first stop of the game, then punctuated it when Marcus Lee blocked Jared White's punt, which was recovered by Josh Corle at the Northeastern 23.

Two plays later, Williams scored from the 9 to bring Towson to within 41-21.

"I don't think we ever got really low," Schaefer said. "We always kept it in our minds that we could come back and win it."

They nearly tied it, after scoring catches by Brown of 30 and 60 yards brought Towson to within 41-35 in the third quarter.

But on their next series, after driving to the Huskies' 15, Schaefer's pass intended for Brown in the end zone was intercepted by linebacker Jamil Young.

The Huskies then struck for two quick scores that finally put the Tigers away.

"Turnovers really hurt us," said Tigers coach Gordy Combs. "That probably led to a 21-point turnaround."

Towson 0 7 28 6 - 41

Northeastern 17 17 7 15 - 56

First quarter N-Thomas 8 pass from Sperrazza (Kesic kick), 10:28 N-Riley 20 pass from Sperrazza (Kesic kick), 7:36 N-FG 41 Kesic, 1:33

Second quarter N-FG 20 Kesic, 13:01 T-Brown 8 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 8:59 N-Murray 3 run (Kesic kick), 5:10 N-Parks 18 run (Kesic kick), :11

Third quarter N-Kent 1 run (Kesic kick), 10:19 T-Brown 71 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 9:58 T-Williams 9 run (Halbruner kick), 5:14 T-Brown 30 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 2:29 T-Brown 60 pass from Schaefer (Halbruner kick), 0:00

Fourth quarter N-Parks 32 pass from Sperrazza (Murray run), 8:25 N-Murray 8 run (Kesic kick), 8:01 T-Brown 5 pass from Schaefer (kick failed), 4:22 A-3,801.

T N

First downs 20 29

Rushes-yards 7-119 13-253

Passing 383 312

Comp-Att-Int 21-31-2 17-25-0

Return Yards 165 144

Punts-Avg. 3-64 2-10

Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-0

Penalties-Yards 6-64 7-45

Time of Possession 21:29 38:31

Rushing-Towson, Williams 15-73, Brown 2-20, Schaefer 2-16, King 5-10. Northeastern, Murray 28-151, Riley 8-64, Broomfield 6-20, Parks 2-13, Thomas 1-7, French 3-6, Kent 1-1, Sperrazza 6-(-9). Passing-Towson, Schaefer 21-31-383-2. Northeastern, Sperrazza 17-25-312-0. Receiving-Towson, Brown 9-222, Williams 5-70, Lee 3-48, Arnold 2-28, Alexander 1-10, Corle 1-5. Northeastern, Parks 9-205, Riley 2-25, Ballantyne 2-20, Monan 1-36, Broomfield 1-17, Thomas 1-8, Kent 1-1.

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