WASHINGTON, D.C. – It was not a pretty football game on Saturday afternoon between two of the top teams in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) but in the end Gallaudet University hung on to beat Mount Ida College, 29-22, for the first time in school history.
The Bison (6-3, 4-2 ECFC) scored the game's first 22 points to excite the 350 fans, who braved the elements on a blustery and cold day at Hotchkiss Field on Senior Day. Mount Ida (7-2, 5-1 ECFC) responded out of halftime down, 22-0, with two touchdown drives before Gallaudet answered with its fourth touchdown late in the third quarter.
The visiting Mustangs, who enter tied for first in the conference with Castleton State, made things interesting when it scored a touchdown on a 53-yard pass from Scott Drosendahl to Dejhaun Williams at the 8:54 mark in the fourth quarter. The touchdown pass was the third for Drosendahl, who ended the day 17-for-26 for 240 yards but was sacked six times and threw four interceptions. Williams made a game-high five receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
Gallaudet punted and turned the ball over on downs on its next two possessions as the final minute ticked off the scoreboard. Mount Ida drove to the Gallaudet 21 with 49 seconds left in regulation but the Mustang threat ended when senior cornerback Tony Tatum (Gardendale, Ala.) jumped an Ida route on the near side of the field and intercepted Drosendahl with 44 seconds left. The Bison took a knee to seal the victory.
GU reaches six wins for the first time under head coach Chuck Goldstein and the first since the 2009 season (6-4, 4-2 ECFC). The Bison are in position, with one more conference game, to set a program best mark for wins in a season and conference wins since the team was elevated back to Division III in 2007.
The Bison defense smothered the Mustangs in the first half and was constantly in the backfield bringing down Drosendahl or any Mustang ball carrier. Gallaudet racked up 10 tackles for a loss of 59 yards to go with six sacks for a loss of 36 yards, four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Junior defensive end Adham Talaat (Springfield, Va.) recorded 2.5 tackles for a loss of 21 yards and two sacks for a loss of 13 yards to go with nine tackles and one pass breakup. Sophomore linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) and senior safety Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.) matched Talaat with nine tackles. Alleyne made an interception to start the fourth quarter and returned it 51 yards to the Mount Ida 19. The Bison went three and out and attempted a 35-yard field goal by freshman kicker Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.) but his kick was partially blocked and resulted in no points.
Senior defensive end Jared Pearce (Reno, Nev.) complimented Talaat on the outside as he made three tackles for a loss of 24 yards and 2.5 sacks for a loss of 15 yards and six total tackles in his last home game as a Bison. Fellow senior linebacker Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) made seven tackles and had one interception and returned it 15 yards. Senior defensive tackle Kevin Allen (Houston, Texas) tallied seven tackles and had 1.5 tackles for a loss of five yards and had a half sack for a loss of three yards on Senior Day. Sophomore defensive back Akeem Guidry (Baton Rouge, La.) had a solid game with six tackles, two tackles for a loss of six yards, one sack for a loss of five yards and one interception returned for 12 yards. Senior defensive back Denton Mallas (South Milwaukee, Wis.) got the start on Senior Day and made two tackles.
GU got on the scoreboard just over three minutes into the game when junior quarterback Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) hit Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) over the middle on a slant and the senior wide receiver sprinted 41 yards to the end zone. Elstad converted the two-point conversion with a pass to Talaat. Elstad finished the game 5-for-11 for 101 yards, one touchdown and one sack and ran the ball 11 times for 15 yards. Worsham had two receptions for 55 yards and one touchdown. Fellow senior wide receiver Kevin Berrigan (Frederick, Md.) had two catches for 43 yards.
The Bison scored on their second possession when junior redshirt running back Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) busted loose for 52 yards to the end zone at the 8:56 mark. He later added a second touchdown on a six-yard run with 4:57 left before halftime. Bonheyo finished the game with 61 yards and two scores.
Freshman running back BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) was Gallaudet's top rusher as he had 15 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown when he scored on a 38-yard run up the middle late in the third quarter to give GU a 29-14 lead.
The Bison had 323 total yards of offense where 222 came on the ground compared to Mount Ida's 377 total yards of offense where 240 came through the air. The Mustangs controlled the time of possession as they held the ball for over 35 minutes. Mount Ida also converted six times on third down opportunities and converted twice on fourth down. GU was 0-for-9 on third down but pulled off two fake punts on fourth down during the game. The two teams combined for 15 penalties for 140 yards. Mount Ida head coach Michael Landers was ejected in the second quarter for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Gallaudet and Mount Ida have played each other every year since 2007 and the series has been very one-sided as the Mustangs won every game (5-0) entering today's matchup. The Mustangs had won the previous five games by an average of 16.8 point per game. The closes game for the Bison was a 22-16 loss two years ago at Hotchkiss Field.
Gallaudet is slated to close out the regular-season schedule on Saturday, Nov. 10, at SUNY Maritime in a 1 p.m. conference game.