TOWSON, Md. - After rallying from a 14-point deficit in the final 9:40 of regulation, the Tigers (1-1) outlasted Coastal Carolina (0-2), 47-45 in a five-overtime epic battle before a crowd of 8,990 at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday evening.
With the teams tied at 39-39 through four overtime periods, junior quarterback Chris Hart threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior Hakeem Moore on the first play of the fifth overtime, giving the Tigers a 45-39 lead. Moments later, on the two-point conversion, Hart ran to his left, dropped the ball, picked it up on the bounce and ran into the end zone, giving the Tigers a 47-39.
However, the Tiger defense had to hold Coastal Carolina to pull out the win. Led by senior quarterback Zach MacDowall, the Chanticleers moved to the Towson six-yard line where they faced a fourth down-and-one. Senior Eric O'Neal ran up the middle and barely made the first down. On the next play, MacDowall completed a five-yard touchdown pass to O'Neal, pulling Coastal to within 47-45.
Trying to convert a two-point conversion to tie the game for the seventh time, MacDowall tried to complete a pass to junior Jamie Childers in the end zone. However, sophomore safety Jordan Dangerfield tipped the pass away, securing a win for the Tigers in the longest game in school history.
The Tigers and the Chanticleers were just one overtime period away from tying the NCAA FCS record with a six-overtime contest.
"Anybody who stuck around sure got their money's worth tonight," said Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. "I am really proud of our guys. We were not going to quit no matter how long this game went. They kept telling me that wanted to keep playing. I love the way our guys play. We beat a very good football team tonight. Coastal Carolina is going to do well this season."
When Coastal Carolina took a 21-7 lead with 12:36 remaining in the game on a 10-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Racheed Gause, nobody was thinking about overtime.
However, Hart fired a 57-yard pass to Moore, who went out of bounds at the Coastal Carolina four-yard line. On third-and-goal at the two-yard line, Hart threw a two-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end James Oboh, cutting the Tigers' deficit to 21-14 with 9:40 left in regulation.
After forcing a Coastal Carolina punt, the Tigers took possession at their own 30-yard line with 3:54 remaining. On fourth-and-four at the Coastal 39-yard line, Hart completed a short pass to sophomore Alex Blake at the 35-yard line. On the next play, Hart scrambled 12 yards to the Chanticleers' 20-yard line. Moments later, he ran to the two-yard line on an 18-yard scamper.
With 29 seconds left, Hart lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone where sophomore Tom Ryan leaped up and grabbed it for a touchdown. When senior Nick Wallace converted, the game was tied at 21-21.
After Coastal ran out the clock, the Tigers were playing in an overtime game for the first time since 2002 - a streak of 86 games.
During the course of the five overtimes, there were three or four times when it looked like the game was over.
"There were so many ebbs and flows in the overtime," said Coastal Carolina Coach David Bennett. "Playing a five-overtime game was uncharted territory for us. The unfortunate thing is somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose."
On the Tigers' first possession of overtime, they couldn't move the ball and Wallace kicked a 34-yard field goal to give them a 24-21 lead.
On Coastal's possession, MacDowall misfired on three straight passes. Senior place kicker Justin Durham came on to kick a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24.
In the second overtime, MacDowall led the Chanticleers on a seven-play scoring drive. His one-yard run gave Coastal a 30-24 advantage. However, the Tigers received a huge break when Durham missed the conversion kick.
On the Tigers' second overtime possession, sophomore Tremayne Dameron carried the load. Dameron, who rushed for 107 yards on 29 carries, carried the ball on five straight plays and scored the game-tying touchdown on a two-yard run. All the Tigers needed was a conversion kick by Wallace to end the game. However, Wallace's kick hit the left upright and the game headed for a third overtime.
"When Justin missed his extra point, I was afraid that would cost us the game," recalled Bennett. "Then, when their kicker hit the upright, I said to myself 'this is crazy.' Both of those guys had been making kicks all game and they both missed at the same time. It shows you what a strange game this was."
With the score tied at 30-30, it was the Tigers' turn to go first in the third overtime. For the second drive in a row, the Tigers kept the ball on the ground. On third-and-one at the Coast four-yard line, Dameron powered off left tackle for his second touchdown of overtime, giving the Tigers a 36-30 lead.
The rules stipulate that both teams must try for two-point conversions after the second overtime. Attempting the two-point conversion, Hart tried to connect with Moore in the end zone. But, sophomore safety Dominique Davenport knocked the pass away, keeping the deficit at 36-30.
On the first play of its third overtime possession, MacDowall completed a 14-yard pass to junior tight end to David Duran. Three plays later, O'Neal ran around left end to score on a seven-yard TD run. Trying to win the game on a two-point conversion, MacDowall passed to Childers in the end zone but senior cornerback Jeremy Gardner broke up the pass, sending the game into the fourth extra period.
Neither offense could generate a touchdown in the fourth overtime. Durham's 43-yard field goal gave Coastal Carolina a 39-36 lead. The Tigers reached the ten-yard where Wallace came into the game and kicked a 27-yard field goal, tying the game once again and setting the stage for the Tigers' win in the fifth overtime.
"You have to give Towson a lot of credit," added Bennett. "They got it done. But I can tell you that our guys are really hurting in that locker room.
Towson plays in the toughest FCS conference (Colonial Athletic Association) there is and that makes them mentally strong," he added. "They just don't give up. The CAA is a smokin' hot league."
The Chanticleers opened the game by driving 75 yards in ten plays to take a 7-0 lead. MacDowall led the Chanticleers on the drive by completing all five passes for 53 yards. O'Neal, who would run for 69 yards on 19 carries, gave Coastal the early lead.
The rest of the half was a defensive struggle. In the second quarter, the Tigers drove to the Chanticleers' one-yard line. On fourth down, the Tigers went for the touchdown. But Hart's pass to sophomore wide receiver Tom Ryan was incomplete and the Chanticleers took over at their own one-yard line with 1:36 left in the half.
In the post-game press conference, Coach Ambrose defended his decision to go for the touchdown. He explained, "There was a lot of football left to be played. Of course, I didn't know exactly know how much football we really had to play."
On their second possession of the second half, the Tigers finally scored a touchdown. After driving to the Coastal 24-yard line, Hart lofted a 24-yard touchdown pass to Moore. Wallace's conversion kick tied the game at 7-7.
The Chanticleers responded with a 65-yard, ten-play drive to re-take the lead. MacDowall's one-yard run gave Coastal Carolina a 14-7 lead with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Coastal marched 57 yards in ten plays for a 21-7 lead, setting the stage for the Tigers' wild comeback.
MacDowall completed 19 of 33 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown for the Chanticleers. He did not throw any interceptions He also ran for 57 yards on 18 carries and scored a pair of TD's.
O'Neal led the Coastal Carolina running game with 69 yards on 19 carries. He also scored a pair of touchdowns as the Chanticleers rushed for 178 yards. O'Neal was also Coastal's top receiver with six receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown.
Linebacker Andrae Jacobs led the Chanticleers' defense with 11 tackles.
In leading the Tigers to the win, Hart accounted for 234 yards of total offense. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 155 yards and four touchdown passes. He threw two TD passes to Moore and one each to Oboh and Ryan. Hart also ran for 79 yards on 22 carries.
Ryan led the Tigers with four catches for 19 yards and one TD while Moore had three receptions for 106 yards, including two touchdown receptions. Moore averaged an amazing 35.3 yards per catch.
Junior linebacker Chris Patterson led the Tiger defense with a career 12 tackles while senior defensive tackle Yaky Ibia had ten tackles, including one for lost yardage. Senior linebacker Donte Blakey came off the bench to make ten tackles, including a quarterback sack and fumble recovery.
TIGER TALES: The win marked the Tigers' sixth straight win in a home opener ... Towson has won 13 of its last 14 home openers.
With the overtime victory, the Tigers improved to 5-2 in overtime games ... Towson is 3-1 in overtime games at home.
The win was the Tigers' second straight victory over Coastal Carolina ... Last season, the Tigers edged Coastal, 21-17.
The Tigers, who rolled up 370 yards of total offense, have now totaled 762 total yards in their first two games ... The Tigers' 47 points scored were the most points they scored in a game since a 49-35 win at Delaware on October 28, 2006.
By rushing for 107 yards on 29 carries, Dameron recorded the second 100-yard game of his career ... He ran for 126 yards at Morgan State last season.
Moore, who had 149 all-purpose yards against Coastal Carolina, has caught five passes for 169 yards in two games and he is averaging 36.2 yards per catch ... Three of his receptions have been touchdown passes.
Both Towson and Coastal Carolina were coming off season-opening losses to NCAA BCS teams ... Towson opened its season with a 51-17 loss at Indiana while Coastal dropped a 31-0 verdict at West Virginia.