MEDIA, Pa. – It took the Gallaudet University football team a quarter to wake up Saturday afternoon on the road against The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades club team but once the Bison started to click on all cylinders they scored quickly and often. GU held off a late charge by Williamson to win the game, 23-19, before a crowd of 450. The victory marks the first for Gallaudet coach Chuck Goldstein.
This is the fourth consecutive victory over Williamson for the Bison dating back to 2005. Gallaudet last defeated Williamson 40-6 in 2008. Overall, this was the 24th meeting between the two programs dating back to 1985. The Mechanics lead the series 15-9.
GU (1-1) came out of the gates flat and watched the Mechanics (0-1) score two passing touchdowns to start the first and second quarters. Williamson lined up for its second point after attempt but Tom Biongiorno's kick was blocked by junior Ty Primous (Lynwood, Ill.), who scooped up the loose ball and rumbled over 85 yards the opposite direction for two points.
The Bison received the ensuing kick-off and sophomore Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) made a 20-yard return to set Gallaudet up with good field position at its own 40-yard line. Seven plays later, senior running back Cole Johnson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) rumbled in from five yards out for the score.
The teams swapped possessions before Gallaudet took over near midfield with 1:32 left in the half. GU senior quarterback Jimmy Gardner (St. Augustine, Fla.) threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) to send the Bison into the half up 16-13.
Gallaudet picked up where it left off in the second quarter when the Bison received the kick-off to start the third. Bonheyo made a 41-yard return, his longest of the game, to the Williamson 39 to place GU in prime position. Bonheyo finished the game with 111 kick return yards.
The Bison pounded the ball on the ground against the Mechanics five straight times. The ground attack opened up the passing game for Gardner as he found Worsham for another 30-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 10, 23-13. Sophomore Justin Arrigo (Trenton, N.J.) made all three of Gallaudet's extra-point attempts in the game.
GU was on the cusp of breaking open the game but the offense fizzled against the Williamson defense that held its ground over the final 25 minutes of the game.
Both teams had trouble moving the ball until midway through the fourth quarter. The battle of field position went back-and-forth between the two punters. Gallaudet punter Dmitry Rossoshansky (Chicago, Ill.) made four punts in the game, all in the second half, and averaged 30 yards per punt. His counterpart Patrick Doyle made six punts for 219 yards (36.5 yards per punt) and had a long of 49 yards and four punts inside the 20.
Overall the Gallaudet kicking game vastly improved Saturday between Arrigo, Rossoshansky and Johnson (on kick offs) after the Bison had a poor showing last week against the United State Merchant Marine Academy. GU lost its all-conference kicker/punter days before the season opener.
Williamson made the game interesting down the stretch as the Mechanics scored a touchdown off a Kevin Fisher 1-yard run with 8:18 left in the game. The point after attempt failed as the kick sailed left. The seven-play drive almost stalled deep in Gallaudet territory but a pass interference penalty gave the Mechanics new life and a new set of downs at the 2-yard line.
The Bison ran down the final four minutes of the game, which was marred with penalties and confusion on the field. When the dust settled Gallaudet rose victorious.
GU finished the game with 286 total yards of offense, 218 came on the ground, while the Mechanics collected 168 yards of offense, 140 came through the air.
Gardner ran for a game-high 126 yards on 23 carries and completed 3-of-14 for 68 yards and two touchdowns to Worsham. Junior fullback Mike Gimeli (Deerpark, N.Y.) was the second leading rusher with 45 yards on 11 carries.
The Bison defense was balanced as 13 players had two or more tackles. Sophomore linebacker Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) led the way with six tackles while junior John Van Wey (Alexandria, Va.) had a game-high two sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss of 13 yards. Rossoshansky and junior Shawn Holder (Lemon Grove, Calif.) recorded sacks and senior defensive back Neal DiMarco (Queens, N.Y.) made the game's only interception.
Williamson quarterback Dale Blees finished the game 10-for-22 for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the home opener for the post-secondary vocational-technical school. Williamson is a member of the Seaboard Conference which formed in 1995. GU was a member of this conference when it was not a NCAA Division III program. The conference consists of club and junior college programs.
The Bison will make their home debut on Saturday, September 18, at 1 p.m. against another Seaboard Conference foe the George Mason University club team.