The lead was broken in the 41st minute when a fierce Etherington volley looked to clip Jonathan Walters on the way in, but it was officially given as a Downes own goal.
The second half saw both teams make plenty of substitutions as the game continued to lack rhythm, with Torquay still frustrating Stoke.
Cameron Jerome was getting plenty of space down the right and was looking like Stoke's dangerman in the second half.
In the last 25 minutes Torquay upped the pressure, Billy Bodin going close on a couple of occasions.
It was he who equalised for the home side as he cut inside and lashed a shot past Carlo Nash.
Torquay held on for a good draw in which they answered most questions asked by the Premier League side.