WASHINGTON – The undefeated Gallaudet University football team needed a spark in the fourth quarter to break through a defensive stalemate between Husson University in a showdown of the top two teams in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC). The Bison defense caused four turnovers on Husson's final four possessions in the fourth and sophomore Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.) booted home a 26-yard field goal with 3:09 left in regulation as the Bison celebrated a 16-13 homecoming victory before 3,023 at Hotchkiss Field.
The Bison (7-0, 4-0 ECFC) continue its best start in program history and increased their winning streak to nine games dating back to last season.
Gallaudet, who entered the game leading Division III in rushing, was held to a season low 166 yards on the ground and only tallied 260 yards of offense. Husson senior defensive tackle Ernest Wiggins (six tackles) was a difference maker as the Bison had trouble running up the middle against a strong defensive line.
Sophomore quarterback Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) finished the game 3-for-7 for 94 yards and one touchdown, a 42-yard pass to his older brother Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) midway through the first quarter as GU led 6-0. Todd finished with 28 rushing yards on 16 carries while Ryan chalked up 46 yards on eight attempts.
Husson senior tailback Byron Jackson became the first 100-yard rusher against the Bison defense this season as he recorded 111 yards on 16 carries. Jackson tied the game with a 1-yard run at the 5:18 mark in the first quarter. His game-high 64-yard run, two plays prior, set-up the Eagles (4-3, 3-1 ECFC) score and knotted the game at six.
The Bison put together their longest drive of the game, nine plays and 68 yards, at the end of the first and through the start of the second quarter. A key reverse 18-yard run by freshman Chris Papacek (Cuero, Texas) got the Bison down to the Husson 1-yard line. Sophomore Braxton Baker (Webb City, Mo.) capped the drive with the 1-yard touchdown to the upper left corner of the end zone. Baker also had two receptions for 52 yards in the game.
GU started a drive, just under three minutes before halftime, and sophomore running back BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) fumbled on the first play at the Gallaudet 22. Flores led the Bison with 63 rushing yards on 19 carries. On the next play, Husson used a double reverse to Shabashe McIntosh, who scampered up the middle to the end zone, and tie the game once more as the teams went into intermission.
In the third quarter the Bison defense limited the Eagles to three possessions where they gained a combined 12 yards on 10 plays and punted twice and turned the ball over on downs.
A flurry of turnovers dominated the fourth quarter, nearly cost Gallaudet the game. Sophomore quarter Quentin Williams (Chesapeake, Va.) rushed on 3rd and 12 at his own 30-yard line and fumbled the ball as Husson took over on the Gallaudet 26. Two plays later, Kyle McKinnon lost the handle as junior defensive end Tyler Snider (Thornville, Ohio) jarred the ball loose. Senior Nicholas Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) recovered the fumble for the Bison on the 22.
GU went three-and-out but Magsig flipped the field with a wind aided 66-yard punt on the blustery clear day. Magsig's punt went out of bounds at the Husson 11. Husson was driving before it fumbled but recovered at its own 27. The Eagles faced a 3rd and 21 but a late hit out of bounds penalty gave Husson new life. Three plays later, Eagle quarterback Joe Seccareccia (2-for-13, 19 yards, three interceptions) threw a deep ball down field but was intercepted by freshman strong safety Matt Taylor (Auburn, Kan.) at the Gallaudet 37.
The Bison continued to struggle to run on the Eagles and were forced to punt again. Magsig got off another long punt (56 yards) that went into the end zone for a touchback.
Gallaudet's defense went to work again and forced the game-changing turnover on the second play from scrimmage. Seccareccia dropped back to pass but was intercepted by freshman linebacker Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) at the Husson 38 and he returned the ball down inside the 10. The Bison settled for a 26-yard field goal by Magsig to take the lead, 16-13.
Senior cornerback AJ McCrea (Kennesaw, Ga.) iced the game, on the next Husson play, when he intercepted Seccareccia at midfield with three minutes left in regulation. The Bison got a first down and a Husson penalty helped Gallaudet run the clock out.
Junior linebacker Gregg McConville (Frederick, Md.) led the Bison with 10 tackles (five solo) and had 1.5 tackles for a loss of four yards and forced one fumble. Senior defensive end Adham Talaat (Springfield, Va.) tallied six tackles (five solo) as Snider chipped in seven tackles (six solo). Husson linebackers Logan Steward and Stephan Dance led the Eagles with nine tackles each in the loss.
Gallaudet will hit the road and travel to Leicester, Mass., next Saturday, Nov. 2, to face ECFC opponent Becker College (1-6, 0-4 ECFC) at noon.