LEICESTER, Mass. – Gallaudet University's football team continued its historic run on the road Saturday against Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opponent Becker College as the Bison won, 40-34, with a stunning blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown with no time left at Alumni Field.
The Bison (8-0, 5-0 ECFC) continue their best start in program history and increase their winning streak to 10 games dating back to last season.
GU and Becker (1-7, 0-5 ECFC) scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter but both teams missed their point after attempts as the game was knotted at 34-34 late in the fourth quarter. The Hawks got the ball back in great field position, following a short Gallaudet punt, and had 1:36 to work with. Becker drove down to the Bison 14-yard line and took a timeout with two seconds left in regulation. Becker kicker Dejahn Dawkins lined up for a 31-yard field goal but freshman Chris Papacek (Cuero, Texas) came off the edge and blocked the Hawks' kick. The loose ball bounced free as senior running back Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) scooped up the ball and returned it 79 yards for the game-winning touchdown with no time left.
After being stifled by the Becker defense Gallaudet trailed 21-7 going into the half. Despite a slow start, the Bison were able to regroup and come out strong in the third quarter. After receiving the kick at its 27-yard line, Gallaudet drove down the field and scored in only seven plays. The drive was capped off with a 21-yard run by Bonheyo. Sophomore kicker Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.) converted the point after attempt bringing the score to 21-14. The Bison were not done as on the ensuing Magsig kickoff, freshman Justin Ewing (East Palo Alto, Calif.) came down the field and forced a fumble, which freshman Zach Abbott (El Dorado, Ark.) recovered for a touchdown. Gallaudet scored 14 points in the first 3:53 of the third quarter. After stopping the Hawks on the next drive, the Bison continued their explosive third quarter as the offense marched down the field going 61 yards on 11 plays. The drive ended with a six-yard pass by sophomore quarterback Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) to sophomore fullback BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas).
Becker was able to adjust and tie the game in the fourth following a Dylan MacGuire pass to Shawn Llewellyn with 1:37 remaining. The Bison got the ball back but after allowing back-to-back sacks they were forced to punt. After a short punt, the Hawks were in great field position to end the game. The Hawks took the ball down to the Gallaudet 14-yard line and called a timeout with two seconds remaining to prepare for what should have been a game winning field goal.
Flores was Gallaudet's leading rusher as he totaled 71 yards on 19 attempts, including a 1 yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the Bison ahead of the Hawks, 34-28.
Todd Bonheyo (2-for-5, 42 yards) led the Bison offense, running for an impressive 49-yard touchdown early in the first quarter and later throwing a touchdown to Flores in the third quarter.
Junior linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) led the Bison with 13 tackles (11 solo) including one sack, 4.5 tackles for a loss and a pass breakup. Junior defensive lineman Tyler Snider (Thornville, Ohio) added seven tackles (six solo) including 1.5 sacks.
The Hawks were led by quarterbacks Robert Baker and Dylan McGuire as they combined for 348 yards passing and four touchdowns. Dawkins was the leading receiver as he caught eight balls for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard pass that put Becker ahead of Gallaudet in the first quarter. Melvin Booker led the Hawks defense as he tallied 10 tackles (six solo) including one sack and two tackles for a loss.
Despite multiple injuries during the game, the Bison stepped up and made plays when it counted.
"Whether we fall behind, pull ahead or stay even, the players don't quit. We never quit. People got hurt and other players stepped up and helped us pull out the win," said Gallaudet coach Chuck Goldstein.
The Bison are on the longest winning streak in program history at 10-0. The previous best start was in 1987 when the Bison won their first five games and finished with a 9-1 record.
Gallaudet returns home to host ECFC foe Anna Maria College (2-6, 1-4 ECFC) next Saturday, Nov. 9, in the Bison's last home game this regular season, at noon at Hotchkiss Field. Anna Maria defeated Castleton State College, 42-14, at home today. The Bison will be playing for the ECFC championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
Note: Gallaudet's game-winning play was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 plays for Saturday at No. 5...the video (see below) was shared a lot on social media and gained attention and tweets from ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) and Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday (@MattRHinton) to name a few.