Tony Vinson is casting a large shadow these days. That's understandable after Towson State's senior running back rewrote history in Saturday's 49-21 victory over Bucknell.
Vinson set a single-game Division I-AA record with 364 yards rushing, more than any previous Tigers team had run for in a game. He scored four touchdowns to set a single-season school record with 19. And he continues to add to his single-season (1,689) and career (2,731) rushing records.
Lost in all of Vinson's accolades have been some other fine performances from the best team in Towson State history. Quarterback Dan Crowley had the quietest record-setting game on Saturday. All he did was throw three touchdown passes to become the school's career leader with 51. Crowley has completed 117 of 206 passes for 1,770 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has been intercepted only four times.
Then there's wide-out Mark Orlando. He leads Tigers receivers in receptions (38), yardage (757), touchdowns (seven) and yards per catch (19.9). He also has averaged 11.7 yards on 20 punt returns. On defense, Mike Arbutina (80 tackles) and Rob Stanavitch (15 sacks) have been outstanding.
On this team, however, everyone is playing second fiddle to Vinson. He has moved into contention for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation's top, Division I-AA player. He has carried the Tigers (7-2) to their first winning season in seven years and their first appearance in the Top 25. He has given Towson State reason to dream about a trip to the national playoffs.
Vinson, who has not been held under 100 yards this year, has been incredible in his last six games. During that stretch, he has 1,256 yards and 15 touchdowns on 193 carries. That's an average of 209.3 yards.
Vinson leads Division I-AA running backs with 187.7 yards a game, and he needs 195 yards in Saturday's season finale against Morgan State to break the I-AA single-season record of 1,883 by Colgate's Rich Erenberg.
Morgan's Steeple stands tall
When Morgan State winds up its season Saturday, the Bears will say goodbye to senior defensive tackle Matt Steeple, who has had a distinguished career during some lean times.
Steeple, from Northern High School, has been the brightest spot a defense that has given up over 40 points a game. He leads the team with 108 tackles, including 62 solo. He also leads the Bears with 10 sacks.
Morgan State's rookie of the year as a freshman in 1990, Steeple, 6 feet 3, 275 pounds, matured into a first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection last year, when he had 83 tackles and seven sacks. He should go out a first-team All-MEAC winner again, and he could be hearing from the NFL in next year's draft.
Salisbury finishes strong
Salisbury State's football team wrapped up a forgettable season with a flourish. Saturday, the Sea Gulls snapped a six-game losing streak with a 41-3 romp over visiting Guilford to wind up the year with a 2-7 record. They also set a record while doing it.
Senior quarterback Len Annetta threw for 437 yards and five touchdowns, both school records. He also set passing records for a single season (2,087) and a career (5,817).
And freshman cornerback Eric Hill, making only his second start, had a hand in four turnovers. He tied a school record with three interceptions, and he recovered a fumble.
Essex women eye title
The women's soccer team at Essex Community College has a shot at winning its first NJCAA title in 10 seasons. Today, the Knights (15-1-1) travel to Trenton, N.J., to face Mercer in the national quarterfinals.
The Knights, who beat Mercer, 3-1 during the regular season, have outscored their opponents, 65-7. Amie Stone, a freshman striker from Perry Hall, has scored 12 goals and added six assists. Robyn Depasquale (Mercy) has 12 goals and eight assists. Stacy Schott (Franklin) has nine goals and nine assists. Jill Fennekohl (Perry Hall) has 10 goals and four assists.
NTC Essex advanced to the nationals by beating Catonsville, 2-0, to win the Region XX championship.
Hopkins stalls down stretch
The Johns Hopkins football team faded fast, dropping four of its last five decisions to finish with a 4-6 record, the first losing season under four-year coach Jim Margraff.
The defense regrouped to allow a respectable 17 points a game over the season-ending, 1-4 stretch.
Lineman Jelani Rucker and linebackers Stu Markley and Victor Carter-Bey were named to the All-Centennial Conference first team.
Markley, a three-time all-conference selection, came back from a serious knee injury to lead the team in tackles (164). Rucker had 111 tackles. Carter-Bey had 73 tackles and led the Blue Jays with eight sacks.