WASHINGTON - The Gallaudet University football team played its best game of the season but the young Bison team couldn't hold on against Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) foe Anna Maria College here Saturday as the visitors came back to win, 24-20, before 242 at a wet and cool Hotchkiss Field.
Gallaudet (0-8, 0-6 ECFC) clung to a 20-18 lead with 4:36 left in regulation as Anna Maria (1-8, 1-5 ECFC) forced a three-and-out and a Bison punt. GU committed a 15-yard penalty on the punt return to push Anna Maria into Gallaudet territory to the 38-yard line. The AMCATS ran the ball six straight times. Christopher Bettano (12 carries, 37 yards) capped the drive with an 11-yard scamper down the sideline and into the end zone. Bettano leapt towards the pylon, broke the plane of the goal line, as the ball got dislodged and went out of bounds. The call stood as the AMCATS converted on the extra-point kick and took the four-point lead, 24-20, with 2:09 left in regulation.
Junior Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.), the reigning ECFC Special Teams Player of the Week, returned the ensuing kickoff 19 yards to the Gallaudet 31 with two minutes left. Freshman quarterback Ramon Johnson (Sylmar, Calif.) threw an incomplete pass but Anna Maria's Nick Cruz was flagged for pass interference against Dylan Mento (Hammonton, N.J.) to push GU 15 yards closer. Johnson (5 of 10, 83 yards, one touchdown) threw four consecutive incomplete passes to end the game.
Anna Maria took a knee to run out the final 1:33 as Gallaudet was out of timeouts.
The win sparked off a wild celebration for the AMCATS who snapped a 20-game losing streak dating back to 2013. The loss hands Gallaudet its 13th straight.
Gallaudet got on the scoreboard in the first quarter after junior Sean Fenton (Chicago, Ill.) blocked the AMCATS' punt deep in Anna Maria territory. The AMCATS were flagged for illegal batting, which placed the ball on the Anna Maria 1. Freshman running back Kahan Louissaint (Gaithersburg, Md.) plunged in for the touchdown as the Bison had their first lead since the fourth game of the year against Norwich University.
In the second quarter, Gallaudet put together a solid drive of 48 yards on six plays. Anna Maria aided the GU drive with two pass interference calls as the last one placed the Bison on the Anna Maria 2. Senior Todd Collins (Amityville, N.Y.), a regular starter on the offensive line, had to suit up at tight end today due to injuries and took advantage of a chance to score points for the Bison offense. Collins took the handoff from Johnson and plowed in from two yards out for his first career touchdown. The AMCATS were flagged for another pass interference on the point after attempt and Gallaudet had the ball on the 1-yard line. Collins got his number called again and the four-year letterwinner bowled his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion as GU led 14-0.
The youthful Gallaudet defense stymied the AMCATS on the next series as Anna Maria got down to the Gallaudet 7 and couldn't get into the end zone. The AMCATS had a rush for no gain and two incomplete passes before settling for a 24-yard field goal from Francis Cole. Gallaudet took a 14-3 lead into halftime.
Anna Maria recorded a safety in an uneventful third quarter before scoring its first touchdown of the game just two minutes into the fourth quarter. The AMCATS drove 86 yards on 11 plays before quarterback Daniel Faison (8 of 16, 83 yards, one interception; 13 carries for 67 yards) rushed 16 yards into the end zone. Anna Maria had its extra-point kick blocked as Gallaudet held a 14-11 lead.
Gallaudet answered on the next drive with a seven-play, 50-yard drive that took four minutes. A healthy dose of Louissaint rushing the ball and another AMCAT pass interference call helped push the Bison into the red zone. Johnson capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown strike to Mento with 9:04 left in regulation. Johnson's two-point conversion pass failed as GU led 20-11.
The Bison let their guard down on special teams as Anna Maria returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Gallaudet 32. Two minutes later, Bettano rumbled in from seven yards out for the first of his two fourth quarter touchdowns.
- Gallaudet started 15 freshmen (nine on defense)
- The depleted Bison roster only saw 28 players play today
- Fenton led the GU defense with 10 tackles, forced a fumble, one block
- Freshmen Jacob Mateyka (Oswego, Ill.) and Drew Faulkner (Niceville, Fla.) had eight tackles each
- Freshmen Richard Harty (Montville, N.J.), Louie Akuffo (Bowie, Md.), Solomon Worthey (San Diego, Calif.) had seven tackles each
- Smith added six tackles and had the game's lone interception
- Freshman Wayne Castle (Virginia Beach, Va.) forced a fumble on Faison as he sacked the AMCAT signal caller for a loss of nine yards
- Mateyka and Worthey combined on the other sack for the Bison
- Louissaint finished with 66 rushing yards on 35 carries
- Mento was GU's leading receiver with two catches for 40 yards
- GU was 2-for-4 on fourth down conversions
- The Bison came up short on a 4th and 1, late in the 3rd quarter, at the Anna Maria 14
- Both quarterbacks threw for 83 yards and completed 50 percent of their throws
- The AMCATS' Michael Sinto had a game-high 15 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss of eight yards
- Anna Maria's 20-game losing streak began at Hotchkiss Field when Gallaudet defeated the AMCATS, 35-7, on Nov. 9, 2013.
- Gallaudet leads the series with Anna Maria, 6-1
The game marked the final home game for Gallaudet's four seniors; Collins, offensive lineman Sean Maiwald (San Jose, Calif.), offensive lineman Leo Parnell (Boston, Mass.) and wide receiver Anton Jackson (Detroit, Mich.). Parnell was the only senior not to suit up due to injury. Collins, Maiwald and Parnell are four-year letterwinners who helped Gallaudet to 18 wins and 13 ECFC win and helped Gallaudet win its first ECFC championship during the 2013 season. This is Jackson's first year on the football team after a standout career with the men's basketball team. Jackson had one catch for 16 yards in today's game. In one touching moment during the game, Collins went down with an injury and Parnell ran out to help Collins to the sideline. Collins tried to hobble off but was in pain. Parnell opted to pick up Collins and carry him to the sideline.
Gallaudet will travel to SUNY Maritime (4-5, 2-4 ECFC) next Saturday (Nov. 14) to close out the season with a 1 p.m. conference game.