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O’Neill’s 55-yard FG puts Tigers over Rams

If there is anybody a football doesn’t want to leave the result of the game to it’s a freshman kicker, but Aiden O’Neill pulled off his greatest Nigel Gruff impression and booted a 55-yard field goal as time experience to win his team the 32-31 victory over the Rhode Island Rams in Kingston, RI.

And while Towson’s 2016 campaign has officially ended, there has to be great joy with how they ended it. Since the return of Morgan Mahalak from injury, the Tigers have one three-straight games to end the season.

It didn’t particularly look like it would end that way, however. Towson blew a 13-point lead in the second half and trailed by eight points in the fourth quarter. And even after quick 55-second scoring drive in which Mahalak completed four passed for 62 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Christian Summers, it still didn’t look likely that they would win the game.

But the defense shut the Rams down and forced them into a three-and-out, and despite having only 52 seconds left on the clock, Mahalak hit Andre Dessenberg for an 18-yard gain, Trey Kilgore for gaines of 25 and 15 and then O’Neill kicked the field goal of his career.

Mahalak finished the game with 353 yards passing and two touchdowns and another 47 yards on the ground. He had 120 of those yards on the last two scoring drives to lead the Tigers to their comeback victory.

Rhodes Island was able to score first after a 69 yard drive to open the game with quarterback Jordan Vazzano busting into the endzne from three yards out. Towson the turned the ball over on downs on their opening drive, but they didn’t let that sink them.

Charlie McKeeman took a hand-off on the Ram’s next drive but had the ball stripped by Monty Fenner. Jordan Mynatt jumped on the ball to give the Tigers possession back in the redzone. Set up just 20 yards away, Towson took less than two minutes to get the ball in the endzone. Shane Simpson capped off the drive with a one-yard run to tie the game.

Troy Jeter then got Towson the ball right back with an interception of a Vazzano pass. Mahalak completed a 12-yard pass for Dessenberg to open the next drive, a 27-yard pass to Christian Summers and set the Tigers up for a 19-yard field goal by O’Neill to give the Blue Jays a 10-7 lead.

After forcing Rhode Island to a three-and-out, the Tigers built on their lead even more as a 34-yard run by Mahalak and then a 41-yard pass to Dessenberg got them back into the endzone in less than 40 seconds.

Rhode Island would kicked in a 21-yard field goal, but even their seven minute drive wouldn’t take Towson out of their offensive rhythm. The Tigers went back ahead by multiple possessions with a 45-yard field goal by O’Neil as the clock ran out in th first half.

In the second half, they pushed ahead by even more with a 37-yard field goal by O’Neill, but 21-straight points gave the Rams a 31-23 lead late in the fourth quarter. The run was sparked by a 65-yard fumble recovery into the endzone by Brandon Ginnetti. Vazzano them completed touchdown passes to Aaron Parker and Harold Buckner III on consecutive drives. But Mahalak showed why he was so highly touted coming to Towson and led the Tigers to an improbable late fourth-quarter comeback.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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