WASHINGTON - The Gallaudet University football team battled hard on the turf here Saturday at Hotchkiss Field for four quarters against Mount Ida College in an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) contest only to fall short in the final seconds of the game.
The final offensive drive by the Bison (1-5, 0-3 ECFC) was capped off with a 35-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.) to sophomore wide receiver Dylan Mento (Hammonton, N.J.) with 23 seconds left in regulation. The score cut the Mustang lead to one, 13-12.
Gallaudet, who doesn't have a reliable place-kicker on its roster, opted to go for the win in the closing seconds.
In the exciting moments after the Benton to Mento touchdown the Bison lost track of the play clock in lining up for the point after attempt. Gallaudet was hit with a costly delay of game penalty and forced back five yards to the eight-yard line to try a two-point conversion. Benton scrambled out and tossed the ball up to the end zone but the ball was batted down for an incomplete attempt.
GU tried an onside kick in the waning seconds but Mount Ida (2-4, 2-1 ECFC) recovered the ball and ran out the clock as the Mustangs escaped with the 13-12 win.
In the first half, the two teams were scoreless through one quarter of play. GU was backed up on its own 27 on fourth down and forced to punt. A bad snap led punter Jonathan McCrea (Washington, D.C.) to run helplessly in the backfield where he was dropped for a loss of 19 yards on the Gallaudet 8. Two plays later, Mount Ida plunged in from three yards out to get on the scoreboard 7-0.
The Mustangs took the seven-point lead into halftime.
Gallaudet kicked off to start the third quarter and opted to kick on sides and recovered at its own 49. The Bison marched into Ida territory but the drive stalled and McCrea punted 44 yards into the end zone for a touchback.
Mount Ida responded with a 10-play, 49-yard drive that ended with Mustang kicker Tyler Rogers booting a 48-yard field goal to increase the margin to 10-0.
The Bison responded with their own scoring drive. Freshman Spencer Maples (Kempner, Texas) returned a kick for 53 yards to the Ida 34. GU ran the ball seven straight times, picking up two first downs in the process, and capped the drive with a Benton seven-yard touchdown run. Gallaudet tried to run in the ball for two points but Maples was stuffed on the attempt as the Bison trailed by four, 10-6, at the 3:28 mark in the third quarter.
Rogers added a 23-yard field goal at the 8:18 mark in the fourth quarter as the Mustang lead grew to seven, 13-6.
The Bison found themselves in a troubling situation as they were forced to go back on defense with only 4:20 left in the game and down by seven. A strong defensive stand led by Bison freshman defensive tackle David Bradley (Miami Gardens, Fla.), senior linebacker Ryan Santana (Palm Bay, Fla.) and senior linebacker Sean Fenton (Chicago, Ill.) forced the Mustangs to punt.
The Bison retained possession of the ball on their own 27-yard line with 3:02 left and no timeouts, which were used during the defensive stand.
Benton helped to march the Bison down the field as they converted on fourth down, twice, before reaching the Ida 35 with seconds left on the clock.
Benton found Mento, who was wide open, down the middle of the field. Mento made the catch and willed his way into the end zone as he shed tackles from would be defenders with 23 seconds left in regulation. The Bison sideline and crowd erupted in joy when Mento landed in the end zone for GU's second score of the game.
- Santana led GU's defense with 11 tackles (five solo)
- Solomon Worthey (San Diego, Calif.) had eight tackles (three solo) including one sack for a loss of 12 yards
- Mento led the offense with 11 receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown
- Benton rushed 14 times for 40 yards
- Maples returned a kickoff for 53 yards
- Members of the Gallaudet football team wore pink items on their uniforms (gloves, socks, etc.) to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness month. A portion of the proceeds from today's game will be donated to cancer research
The Bison hit the road as they head Northfield, Vt., to Norwich University to take on the Cadets (2-4, 2-1 ECFC) in a conference game on Saturday, Oct. 22, at noon.