READING, Pa. - Gallaudet University's bid to foil Alvernia University's football debut came up four yards short as the Bison lost a heart-wrenching game, 26-21, here Saturday afternoon before 2,731.
Gallaudet (0-1) had four shots to score a go-ahead touchdown from Alvernia's 4-yard line in the final minute. Alvernia's defense stood strong as it denied Gallaudet's ball carriers on the first three attempts. The two teams traded timeouts with 27 seconds left in regulation.
Junior quarterback Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.) got under center at the Alvernia 2 as the home crowd rose to their feet and screamed for the Golden Wolves, who were playing their first collegiate football game in program history. Benton faked the handoff to sophomore DeMichael Shelbon (Monroe, La.), who was running up the middle, and broke outside going towards the end zone. An Alvernia defender forced Benton to fumble the ball to his right where freshman Cassmeir Hutchinson (Chesapeake, Va.) picked the ball up and got tackled back at the line of scrimmage to end the series.
Alvernia (1-0) ran out the final 21 seconds to seal its first win in program history and set off a wild celebration for the Golden Wolves.
Gallaudet started the game strong with back-to-back touchdown drives on the second and third drive, respectively.
Shelbon rumbled in from 1 yard out at the 2:27 mark in the first quarter as Gallaudet led 7-0.
In the second quarter, GU needed 10 plays to cover 39 yards in a five-minute, 19-second drive that ended with a Shelbon plunge from 1 yard out.
Alvernia erased the 14-point deficit with two consecutive scores. The Golden Wolves had both extra-point attempts blocked as the Bison took a 14-12 lead into halftime.
The game continued to go back-and-forth in the second half. Alvernia scored quickly out of the half on a 20-yard run by Malcolm Carey (13 carries, 117 yards) as the Golden Wolves took their first lead in program history, 20-14.
Gallaudet responded with a seven-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard Benton touchdown run as the Bison regained the lead, 21-20, with 10:38 left in the third quarter.
Both teams fumbled opportunities in the third quarter before Alvernia scored the eventual game-winning touchdown at the 2:40 mark in the fourth quarter on another 20-yard Carey run up the middle.
On the ensuing drive, Gallaudet faced 3rd and 2 from the Alvernia 48 before Hutchinson broke free and scampered 45 yards down to the 3-yard line with just over a minute left in regulation.
The Bison defense shutout the Golden Wolves on third down as Alvernia went 0-for-9 and was 1-for-1 on fourth down. Junior Mason Gooch (Mount Sterling, Ky.) finished with eight tackles and 2.5 sacks for a loss of 25 yards.
- Gallaudet rushed for 310 yards on 57 carries
- Shelbon led the rushing attack with 93 yards on 18 carries and two scores
- Hutchinson recorded 82 yards on six carries in his debut
- Benton completed 5 of 14 passes for 54 yards and ran for 63 yards
- Senior wide receiver Dylan Mento (Atco, N.J.) caught three passes for 41 yards
Gallaudet heads south next weekend to face Greensboro College (0-1) in a non-conference game on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1 p.m.