A spill may have cost Georgetown its first 'IC4A cross-country championship since 1965 today as the Hoyas were edged by Massachusetts, 123-128, in the 69th running of the race at Van Cortlandt Park.

Villanova finished third with 142 points followed by Rutgers (181) and St. John's (188). Navy, seventh a year ago, was 13th with 324 points, while Harvard, a surprise winner last year, dropped all the way to 25th.

Georgetown's finsh qualified the team for next week's NCAA championships in Pullman, Wash.

The Hoyas placed a four runners in the top 30, led by Jim Peterson's second straight third-place finish. He was followed by Kevin Byrne, the first freshman to finish, in ninth position; Dave Dobrzynski, 19th, and another freshman, Steve Ferri, 29th.

Masssachusetts' top four runners were Stetson Arnold, fifth; Mike Quinn, sixth; Lou Panaccione, 20th, and Tom Wolff, 44th.

The difference was in the performance of the fifth and final scorer. Massachusetts' Mike Morris finished 48th, while Chris Neilson of Georgetown was in 69th place, enough of a difference to give Massachusetts its first team win since 1974.

Neilson had been running among the top 30 early in the race, but took a bad fall at the two-mile mark and ran the rest of the way with bruises and a muscle strain.

"Despite that bad break, I was very pleased with our overall perfomance," said Geogetown coach Joe Lang, whose team is the only one to have finished in the top four each of the last four years.

"We knew our top three would run well, but we received excellent performances from Ferri and Neilson, who ran a gutsy race after a bad fall."

John Flora of Northeastern took individual honors as he passed Peterson at the four-mile mark and finished in 24:17.0 Army's Curt Alitz, last year's champion, was second in 24:23.6, and Peterson third, 24:27.7 Peterson and Alitz set the pace for the first four miles before Flora overtook the pair at "Cemetery Hill," a steep rocky hill at the four-mile point of the 5.6-mile course in the Bronx.

"I had no particular strategy, but I did let Alitz and Peterson control the tempo of the race," said Flora, who was second last year. "I knew that if I could stay with them until the hills, I would have a chance; then I gained my advantage in the hills."

Navy's top finisher was Charles Hautau in 37th place with a time of 25:45.5 Rounding out the Mid top five were Eli Khouri, 51st; Mark Donohue, 58th; Joe Soggs, 71st, and Peter Tatro, 112th.

In the university division, Fairleigh Dickinson took the top four spots to beat Bates, which took four of the next five, 24-54. Brandeis was an easy winner in the college division, finishing with 72 points. Towson State was 12th, with 421 points, and Catholic had 435 points, for 13th place. The Cardinals' top finisher was Rich Brody in 41st place, with a time of 27:28.6