There were moments last night when Towson State looked a though it were self-destructing again. More embarrassing mistakes that either ended drives or gave the opposition the lead.
It could have been disastrous. It ended up as a much-needed win.
Senior tailback Larry Washington gained 292 yards against a defense that normally stuffs the run, and freshman Kevin Smith threw two second-half touchdown passes in a 31-15 victory over Monmouth College before 2,143 at Minnegan Stadium.
Smith, making his second start, hit sophomore fullback Bill Hughes with a 7-yard scoring pass, then threw to junior Shawn Ward for the two-point conversion and an 18-15 lead with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
One play after an interception by sophomore Khalid McLeod, Smith (12-for-18, 154 yards) found junior Amadi Eze alone over the middle for a 59-yard touchdown with 10:57 remaining. Smith wound up 5-for-5 in the second half.
Towson (2-2) fielded a defense that included six sophomores and two freshmen, but it shut down the Hawks (3-2) in the second half.
Monmouth, leading 15-10, had caught a break in the third quarter when Towson fumbled on the Hawks' 32. Washington never had control of the handoff, the Tigers' 18th turnover this season.
It turned out to be a minor glitch for the University of Maryland transfer. His 1-yard plunge with 6:40 remaining gave the Tigers a 31-15 lead.
"It's getting better every week, but I still don't think I'm where I could be," said Washington, whose yardage total was the third best in Towson history.
This is Monmouth's third year of collegiate football, but it looked like an established program, going 7-2 last season. The Hawks came in not having allowed more than 100 yards rushing in six straight games, and only twice in two years. Towson solved that with 351 rushing yards.
But early on, some miscues contributed to the Tigers being down 15-10 at the half.
Smith, who had combined with freshman Ryan Waltz for only two touchdowns before last night, came out throwing. He completed a 9-yarder to fullback Hughes on the first play but had three other passes dropped, stalling the drive on Towson's 43.
Sophomore punter Ben Gossard mishandled the snap, took a couple of steps and was buried. The ball came loose, sophomore Robert Ridley scooped it up and ran 32 yards for a touchdown and 6-0 Monmouth lead.
Next for Towson
Opponent: Central Connecticut State
Site: Arute Field, New Britain, Conn.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Yesterday: Lost to Robert Morris, 45-3