NEWTON, Mass. – The Gallaudet University football team faced a tough task on Saturday on the road against Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) foe Mount Ida College. The Bison entered with the second best offense in the conference (averaging 387 yards per game) but was hindered without the services of their top two quarterbacks as the Mustangs foiled the GU offense and held them to a season-low 197 yards of offense. Mount Ida (5-4, 4-2 ECFC) ran over the Gallaudet (5-4, 4-2) defense behind senior running back Johrone Bunch (34 carries, 160 yards, two touchdowns) en route to a 28-12 win before a crowd of 500.
Gallaudet was able to hang with Mount Ida for most of the game until the Mustangs pulled away late in the third quarter. GU junior quarterback Anthony Palmer (Unadilla, N.Y.) was intercepted by Jovan Wilkins at the Bison 31-yard line, Wilkins returned the pick 27 yards to the GU 4. The Mustangs scored three plays later when Bunch threw a touchdown pass on a halfback option to Nick Lynch to increase the Ida lead to 21-12 with 2:37 left in the third quarter.
GU finished the game with 161 yards passing with a season high of 28 attempts. The Bison were forced to take to the air as their ground game was stifled against the Mustangs. Mount Ida held the Bison to a season-low 36 rushing yards; the first time Gallaudet has not reached over 100 yards on the ground this season. The Mustangs were able to rush on the tough Bison defense as they totaled 167 yards on the ground, which is the second most allowed by Gallaudet this season. Mount Ida was able to total 186 passing yards on 14-of-22.
The Bison began the game with the ball as Palmer (12-for-28, 161 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) started under center. After going three-and-out and being forced to punt Gallaudet's defense made the first big play of the game. On an early fourth down and two, backed up on their own 15-yard line the Bison were able to stop the Mustangs offense as John Van Wey (Alexandria, Va.) stuffed Bunch for a loss of a yard to turn the ball over on downs.
The first score came from Mount Ida with 2:26 left in the first quarter as it pieced together an extensive 12 plays, 58-yard drive. Quarterback Scott Drosendahl (13-for-21, 183 yards, one touchdown, one interception) found Matt Valentini for a 14-yard touchdown pass. After a few short possessions by both teams Gallaudet was able to sustain their first long drive with the help of a Palmer pass to junior wide receiver Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) for a gain of 28 yards. The drive resulted in no points for the Bison as Mount Ida's Marcus Pettigrew stripped the ball away from the hands of Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) after a pass from Palmer at the Mount Ida 15-yard line.
Gallaudet was able to get the ball back quickly as Charles Hamlin (Great Mills, Md.) intercepted a pass from Drosendahl and returned it for 66 yards leaving the Bison with great field position. The Bison were able to take advantage of the turnover and in just three plays were able to find the end zone as Palmer completed a nine-yard pass to Worsham (six receptions, 124 yards, two touchdowns). Sophomore kicker Jeremy Cormier (Methuen, Mass.) missed the point after attempt as the Bison trailed 7-6 with five minutes before halftime. The Mustangs were able to tack on another seven points before the half as Bunch rushed for a 13-yard touchdown to put his team up 14-6 at halftime.
The second half opened up with another defensive stand from the Bison as they were able to stop Mount Ida's drive and force them to attempt a 30-yard field goal they missed, wide right. Gallaudet took over on it's own 20-yard line and with a few long passes from Palmer the Bison reached the end zone with a 26-yard pass to Worsham. Down by two Gallaudet went for a two-point conversion as fullback Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) rushed up the middle but the attempt failed to reach the end zone as the Bison trailed 14-12 with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
Mount Ida quickly turned the ball back over to the Bison as Bunch fumbled at the Gallaudet 34 as junior linebacker Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.). The momentum didn't last long as Wilkins intercepted Palmer as the Bison quickly saw a two-point deficit increase to nine.
Gallaudet was not able to recover in the fourth quarter as the Mustangs added an insurance touchdown when Bunch ran in from 28 yards out with three minutes left in regulation. The 16-point loss is the worse defeat in the two years Head Coach Chuck Goldstein has led the Bison.
Mount Ida won the time of possession battle as they had the ball for 37:17 as opposed to Gallaudet's 22:43. Gallaudet also struggled on third down as they made 1-of-12 attempts in the game.
This was Worsham's third game where he surpassed 100 yards receiving and increased his touchdown total to 11 for the season. The multi-touchdown game for Worsham is his fifth this season. Sophomore running back Michael Hantge (Hutchinson, Minn.) was banged up and limited to 52 yards rushing on 10 carries to led the Bison and increase his season total to 636 yards. Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) led Gallaudet with 14 tackles improving his season total to 92. Sophomore defensive end Matt Harris (Lynchburg, Va.) had a sack, which adds to his nation leading season total of 14.5.
The Bison will finish their regular-season schedule at home on Friday, November 11, at 7 p.m. against SUNY Maritime in a conference game. Maritime will enter Hotchkiss Field with a 7-2 overall record and an ECFC mark of 5-1 after it lost 16-9 to conference champion Norwich University today.