CASTLETON, Vt. - The Gallaudet University football team didn't back down from the challenge it faced Saturday afternoon at Dave Wolk Stadium against Castleton University on Homecoming/Family Weekend in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opener for both teams.
The Bison showed resiliency in the second half and pure grit in overtime to defeat the Spartans, 28-27, and silence a crowd of 3,387.
Gallaudet (1-3, 1-0 ECFC) trailed by two touchdowns, 21-7, early on in the third quarter. GU had turned the ball over on its last three possessions while Castleton scored back-to-back touchdowns. The Bison could've thrown in the towel there but they picked themselves up off the floor and used six plays to march 74 yards and score a touchdown. Sophomore Cassmeir Hutchinson (Chesapeake, Va.) scored on an 18-yard run to cut Castleton's lead in half, 21-14.
In the fourth quarter, GU knotted the game at 21-21 after junior quarterback Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.) scrambled 34 yards for a touchdown. Benton finished the game with seven carries for 58 yards on the ground. He completed 9 of 20 passes for 165 yards, one score, three interceptions and one fumble.
Castleton (0-5, 0-1 ECFC) had one final possession in regulation and used 11 plays to cover 35 yards before drive stalled on the Gallaudet 24. The Bison defense came up big and received some help from CU after it committed back-to-back penalties on the drive. The Spartans threw a touchdown pass from Gallaudet 23 with 51 seconds left but the play was wiped out due to illegal formation. A second penalty pushed Castleton further back. CU threw an incomplete pass on fourth down to turn things over on downs.
Gallaudet took a knee and went in to overtime.
The Bison won the toss but elected to go on defense first. Castleton quarterback Jacob McCarthy (22 of 41, 310 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) threw a 25-yard touchdown strike to Anthony Martinez (seven receptions, 113 yards, two touchdowns) on the second play, to give the Spartans a 27-21 lead. Spartan kicker Andy Kenosh was 1-for-2 on extra-point attempts in the game and missed his third attempt at a critical time.
Gallaudet went to work on its overtime possession.
Freshman Austin Sliva-Wynne (Rosenberg, Texas) ran for 15 yards on the first play. He finished the day with 92 rushing yards on 11 carries. GU was 1st and Goal from the Castleton 10. Junior superback RJ Randle (McCalla, Ala.) ran twice for a yard pick up both times. Gallaudet faced 3rd down from Castleton's 8. The Bison dialed up some trickeration as Benton handed the ball off to Sliva-Wynne, who ran right towards the sideline and opted to throw the ball into the end zone where senior Damonte Bray (Clinton, Md.) caught the touchdown pass. This was Bray's second touchdown reception of the game as he concluded the game with 129 receiving yards on nine catches.
Sophomore Jack Gray (Atherton, Calif.) came on for the biggest extra-point attempt of his career. Gray was 3-for-3 in this game. GU has been inconsistent when it has come to the point-after attempt but this time Gray nailed the kick and the Bison players stormed off the sideline to celebrate its first win of the season.
GU snapped a five-game losing streak and built confidence in this year's team, who had lost two close games in September.
The Bison finished the game with 434 yards of total offense (228 yards on the ground) and converted 8 of 17 (47 percent) on third down.
Gallaudet scored the game's first points when Benton hit Bray for a 26-yard touchdown just under four minutes into the game. Castleton led 13-7 at the half.
Junior linebacker Rodney Burford Jr. (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the Gallaudet defense with 16 tackles (four solo), two tackles for a loss of five yards and one forced fumble.
- Hutchinson carried the ball 13 times for 66 yards
- Castleton was 0-for-3 on fourth down
- GU held the edge in time of possession 31:53 to 28:07
Gallaudet returns home to host Alfred State College (2-4, 0-1 ECFC) on Saturday, Oct. 19, at noon.