It was an escape that would have made Houdini proud.
Rebounding from a dismal defensive first half, Towson University scored a pair of 3rd quarter touchdowns and held on to beat Morgan St, 21-16, tonight at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Towson (1-1) got three TD passes from quarterback Sean Schaefer, but some suspect play calling by the Morgan State coaching staff and a pair of missed field goals by the Bears were a bigger part of their undoing.
Ahead 16-14 in the 3rd quarter, Morgan State put together a nice drive that stalled on the Towson 13 yard line. The ensuing missed 30-yard field goal not only left Morgan State empty handed but gave the Tigers new life and they promptly drove 80 yards for the go-ahead score on Schaefer’s 3rd TD throw of the night.
Morgan State – aided all night by a terrific effort from running back Devan James – then put together a solid drive of their own to start the 4th quarter.
Then, bad coaching doomed the Bears.
On 4th and goal from the Tigers two yard line, Morgan State elected to go for it. Eschewing an athletic play like a quarterback bootleg or a hand off to James around the end, the Bears instead tried a dive over the top that resulted in a stop by the Tigers defense.
Bad coaching decision.
James, who ran more than Forrest Gump tonight, should have lugged the ball around the right or left end. Or, perhaps, the Bears could have tried the mis-direction draw they used to perfection all night. James gained about 80 of his 178 yards using that play.
Turning the ball over on downs marked the end of Morgan State’s night.
From there, the Tigers kept the ball for the final 9 minutes and Schaefer produced one final Houdini act on 3rd and 13 (from his own 21) with a 45 yard pass completion that sealed the outcome with a couple of minutes remaining.
It was a gutsy defensive effort by the Tigers in the final 30 minutes. They were absolutely run over in the first half by James and Co. and it looked like the Bears were going to win with ease. Down 16-7 at the half, Towson started the 2nd half with a defensive stop and then Schaefer took over, with 108 yards passing in the 3rd quarter alone as the Tigers scored twice to go ahead.
The missed field goal in the 3rd quarter changed the complexion of the game for Morgan State, as it made the contest a one TD game for them and forced them to go for it on 4th and 2 on the critical play early in the 4th quarter.
Towson opens CAA play on the road next Saturday afternoon (3:00 pm, WNST Radio) at Richmond, a 16-0 loser to the University of Virginia earlier today.