As Towson's D.J. Soven was lining up for his game-winning kick, he was getting grief. Not from the Richmond Spiders, but from his own head coach.
"I knew they had two timeouts to burn, so I told him jokes and made it fun for him," Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said. "It was more about keeping his head not focused on anything and just letting his muscle memory take over. I was really pleased with his focus."
Ambrose shouldn't have worried. The sophomore made a 27-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Towson a 31-28 win over No. 16 Richmond in a Colonial Athletic Association game.
"I was ready," said Soven, who had last kicked a game-winner as a junior varsity player at Cypress Bay High in Weston, Fla. "Coach prepares us for moments like this. He got in my ear, and it wasn't even a big deal. I knew what I had to do, and I was relaxed."
The teams compiled 883 yards of total offense (424 for Towson, 459 for Richmond), and the visiting Spiders (3-3, 0-3) never punted.
The Tigers were led by Terrance West, who had 21 carries for 128 yards and four touchdowns. Richmond quarterback Aaron Corp had a near-perfect night, completing 31 of 34 attempts for 353 yards and two touchdowns.
The victory was the Tigers' second in conference after they went winless in the league last season, and it puts Towson (4-1, 2-0) in a three-way tie with Maine and New Hampshire, both also 4-1 overall, for the conference lead.
Leading 7-3 after the first quarter, the Tigers went 80 yards on 13 plays and used another touchdown by West to increase the lead to 14-3 with 3:48 left in the half. In the biggest play of the drive, West converted a fourth-and-2 at the Richmond 48-yard line.
Meanwhile, the Spiders continued to ride Corp's hot hand. The senior completed his first 15 passes — and 18 of 19 in the first half — and shredded the Tigers' pass defense for 185 yards in the first two quarters.
Richmond finally got into the end zone just before halftime. On second-and-goal from the Tigers' 6, fullback Kendall Gaskins ran through the middle of the Towson defense untouched to cut the lead to 14-10 with 1:08 left in the half.
It looked as if the Tigers would add another score on the ensuing drive. Quarterback Grant Enders found Corey Ford for a 31-yard completion to the Richmond 22 with 18 seconds left, but tailback Dominique Booker got caught running around on a busted play with 11 seconds, allowing the clock to run out.
The Spiders put together an impressive drive to start the second half, going 74 yards to the Towson 1 before freshman linebacker Kenton Powell stopped Gaskins for a 5-yard loss. Richmond settled for a 23-yard field goal by Wil Kamin to cut the lead to 14-13 with 4:45 left in the third quarter. The drive was Richmond's most time-consuming of the season, lasting 8:26.
West added his third touchdown on the next possession, capping a nine-play, 67-yard drive to increase Towson's lead to 21-13 with 14:57 left in the game. He scored from 3 yards on third-and-goal after having been stopped on his two previous attempts.
The Spiders tied the game on their next possession, stringing together an eight-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard pass from Corp to Ben Edwards. Corp found Rodney Barnes in the back of the end zone for a 2-point conversion, tying the score at 21 with 10:37 remaining.
West wasn't done, however. On Towson's next drive, he found a huge hole in the middle of the line and raced untouched from 25 yards to give Towson a 28-21 lead with 6:15 left. The score completed a nine-play, 65-yard drive.
Richmond responded. The Spiders again relied on Corp's arm, and the senior delivered, finding Stephen Barnette open in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal from 8 yards to tie the score at 28 with 2:33 left.
The Tigers continued to battle, getting a 19-yard pass from Enders to Leon Kinnard on third-and-12 with 1:06 remaining and an 11-yard run by West to set up the winning field goal.
"I am extremely proud of our team," Ambrose said. "We kept fighting. They slugged us, and we slugged back. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."