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Long Beach Holds On to Preserve 35-34 Victory : Eastern Washington's Two-Point Conversion Attempt Is Stopped at Goal Line

November 09, 1986|DICK WAGNER | Times Staff Writer

Cal State Long Beach escaped with a 35-34 victory Saturday in a game that Eastern Washington thought it had won on a two-point conversion attempt with less than 30 seconds to play.

After Rob James scored on a quarterback sneak, Eastern Washington had an opportunity to upset the 49ers on homecoming at Veterans Stadium for the second straight season.

Going for the two points, James passed to tight end Eric Riley, who caught the ball at the goal line as he was tackled by 49er defensive back Lane McCarthy.

Eastern Washington players began to celebrate, but officials ruled that Riley and the ball were not in the end zone.

"He was in, no question about it," said an angry Eastern Washington Coach Dick Zornes.

But McCarthy said: "His feet were on the goal line, but the ball wasn't over."

The controversial ending came after a wild passing duel between James and Jeff Graham of the 49ers.

James completed 31 of 50 passes for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Graham completed 27 of 40 for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The 49ers, who led 28-7, kept making mistakes to let the Division I-AA Eagles (5-5) back into the game.

In the second half, Long Beach kicker Eric Weetman missed two field goal attempts and had another blocked.

"There's no excuse for missing field goals," said 49er Coach Mike Sheppard, frustrated despite his team's fifth victory in eight games.

Long Beach fullback Mark Templeton, the nation's leading pass receiver, caught nine passes--his average this season--but stood out more as a runner. He gained 141 yards in 18 carries.

When Graham and split end Charles Lockett combined on a 52-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, the 49ers led, 35-28.

But a fumble by Templeton enabled James and Jon Vea to team up on Eastern Washington's final touchdown drive.

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