George Mason, which moved into the national top 20 this week for the first time in the school's history, scored twice in 12 minutes in the second half to tie 16th-ranked Howard, 2-2, in a soccer game yesterday at Howard Stadium.

Colin Kerr scored at 77:15 with the help of Bison defensive lapses to give the 13th-ranked Patriots (8-0-2) the tie. George Mason almost scored near the end of the second overtime, but Howard sweeper Michael McPherson kicked away a header off a free kick.

Both teams remain in good position to receive NCAA postseason berths in November. Two clubs are chosen from the Mid-Atlantic region, and Howard (7-1-1) was ranked first and George Mason second in the region before the game.

After falling behind, 1-0, late in the first half on Donnie Streete's fifth goal of the year, George Mason rallied with what Coach Dick Broad called "maybe the finest half of soccer we've ever played."

The Patriots tied the game in the 66th minute when freshman Todd Crist took a well-placed free kick from Mike Garrett from the right side and headed it into the upper left corner.

But Howard retook the lead six minutes later. Forward Gerard Johnson scored from 25 yards out on a powerful left-footed shot into the upper right corner that goalie Ken Bernstein had no chance to stop.

"I thought then they had it," admitted Kerr. "I thought we had bitten the dust."

George Mason continued to apply pressure, however, in part because of a tactical change made by Broad at halftime. Kerr, a talented sophomore from Toronto, was shifted from the midfield to a forward position, and his presence up front opened up Howard's defensive line.

Five minutes after Johnson's goal, Kerr took the ball down the right side, where he beat fullback Conrad Seymour on a maneuver along the touchline. When goalie Gilbert McPherson hesitated before coming out, Kerr set up, then hit a hard grounder past the diving goalkeeper. The ball deflected off a Howard defender and into the net for Kerr's seventh goal of the year.

The Bison outshot the visitors, 10-4, and their aggressive defense seldom allowed George Mason to get the ball into the last third of the field.

But Howard Coach Keith Tucker criticized his team's offensive approach, saying, "We had too much dribbling and not enough penetrating passes. They (George Mason) played the way I want my team to play -- just basic, simple soccer."