THROGGS NECK, N.Y. – The No. 25 Gallaudet University football team saw its undefeated season vanish Saturday afternoon before 2,350 fans at Reinhart Field as SUNY Maritime upset the Bison, 7-6, in the regular-season finale for both Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) teams. The loss is Gallaudet's first since Oct. 27, 2012, snapping an 11-game winning streak.
The Bison (9-1, 6-1 ECFC) will next await the announcement of the 2013 NCAA Division III football championship field of 32 teams that will be made tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 17) at 6 p.m. Gallaudet will make it's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. The Bison are also the first men's sports team to make a NCAA appearance in Gallaudet history.
The Bison struggled offensively throughout the day against a stingy Maritime defensive line. In the first half, GU only had 41 yards of offense (19 rushing yards) on 18 plays and one first down. Gallaudet only trailed 7-0 at intermission.
Maritime (5-5, 5-2 ECFC) tried an onside kick, twice due to penalty, to begin the third quarter as Gallaudet received prime field position on the Privateer 39-yard line. The Bison then marched 32 yards to the Maritime 7 before a 4th and 1 pitch out ended the threat of Gallaudet getting on the scoreboard.
The Privateers, another triple option offense, controlled the time of possession in the game 35:21 to 24:39. Gallaudet entered leading the country, in all divisions, in time of possession.
Gallaudet started its second drive of the fourth quarter with 11:18 left in regulation. The Bison handed the ball off to sophomore running back BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) 11 out of 17 plays as the buff and blue went 90 yards down the field. Flores plunged in, up the middle, on a two-yard touchdown run to give the Bison their first points of the game at the 3:48 mark.
Down one, 7-6, the Bison decided to go for the win on the road. Gallaudet lined up for the extra-point kick but on the snap, senior holder Nicholas Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) popped up and threw a jump ball into the end zone where senior defensive end Adham Talaat (Springfield, Va.) tried to come down with the ball as a Privateer defender pulled him down. The catch was not made and no penalty was called on the two-point conversion.
Maritime ran out the final three minutes, 48 seconds as the Privateers made two first downs and got another one from a Bison penalty.
Flores led the Bison offense with 75 rushing yards on 23 carries which gave him over 1,000 yards rushing this season. Flores has run for 1,051 yards on 199 attempts. He is the first Bison to surpass this milestone since 1987 when freshman Karl White rushed for 1,040 yards on 182 rushes and 16 touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) ran for 73 yards, all in the second half, on 13 carries. He completed 2-of-8 passes for 22 yards and one interception, which happened on Gallaudet's second possession of the third quarter on a fourth down play. The Bison completed 5-of-14 plays on third down and were 1-for-4 on fourth down. Gallaudet was held to 168 rushing yards and 190 yards of total offense.
Elstad led the Bison defense with 13 tackles (nine solo) followed by sophomore Gregg McConville (Frederick, Md.) with 11 tackles and junior linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) with nine stops. Freshman Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) had eight tackles and made a game-high three tackles for a loss of five yards.
Kyle Gardner led the Maritime offense with 67 rushing yards on 19 carries. Dwayne Lacroix scored Maritime's only points on an 8-yard run at the 4:59 mark in the second quarter. Kameron Knight led the Privateer defense with 12 tackles (eight solo). Maritime rushed for 205 yards on 61 attempts.
Gallaudet was trying to become the second ECFC team to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. The last team to complete the feat was SUNY Maritime in 2010.
NOTE: Fans and supporters of the Gallaudet Bison are invited to come out the Student Activity Center (SAC) tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. and watch with the team in the multipurpose room where they will find out who they will play in the NCAA first round.