WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opening weekend started off with a bang as Gallaudet University's showdown with Castleton State College went to the final seconds on a warm Saturday afternoon at Hotchkiss Field before 700 fans. Castleton State's Carl Ojala kicked a 20-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in regulation to lift the Spartans (1-2, 1-0 ECFC) over the Bison, 31-28.
Gallaudet (2-2, 0-1 ECFC) tied the game at 28, a minute before, when the Bison finished a seven play, 80-yard drive and converted a two-point conversion. Sophomore running back Phillip Hayes (Baton Rouge, La.) ran in from 10 yards out for the touchdown and then scored on the two-point attempt.
Castleton started its final drive at its own 35-yard line and had a minute and 17 seconds to work with. Spartan quarterback Shane Brozowski threw his team on his back and marched them down the field on an eight play, 62-yard drive. Brozowski ran the ball four times and completed three passes to set-up the game-winning field goal.
It was an offensive explosion in the conference opener as the two team combined for 1,009 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Jimmy Gardner (St. Augustine, Fla.) threw for a career-high 156 yards, as he completed 7-of-11 passes, and one touchdown. The Bison signal caller also ran the ball 16 times for 70 yards and one touchdown. Gardner's counterpart Brozowski (33-for-46) torched the Bison defense with 413 passing yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball 20 times for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Gallaudet ran for a season best 329 yards on the ground led by junior Mike Gimeli (Deer Park, N.Y.) who ran for a game-high 128 yards and scored the game's first touchdown with 39 seconds left in the first quarter. The score gave Gallaudet an early 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Spartans got on the board seconds later when Brozowski connected with Evan Cassidy on a swing pass that went for 54-yard touchdown.
A missed Spartans field goal allowed the Bison to gain possession late in the second quarter. Gardner aired it out and connected on two passes for 25 and 37 yards, the latter went to sophomore Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) for a touchdown with 2:30 left before half. Gallaudet's point after attempt by senior Justin Wilson (Carmichael, Calif.) was blocked.
Castleton took the lead for the first time with 19 seconds left before the intermission when Brozowski dove in from a yard out. The Spartans went into halftime up 14-13.
In the third quarter, the Bison started the second half with a strong 11 play, 61-yard drive that ended with a Gardner 5-yard run at the 8:46 mark. The Spartans answered with their own 10 play, 59-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown when Brozowski scored on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line.
GU coughed up the ball on its next drive but quickly regained possession when sophomore defensive back Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.) came down with a highlight reel interception. Bean grabbed a tipped ball from teammate Tony Tatum (Gardendale, Ala.), who was falling out of bounds. The ensuing Bison drive was stuffed on a fourth and four run at the Castleton State 32-yard line.
In the fourth quarter, the Spartans were poised to add to its 21-20 lead but Ojala's 22-yard field goal was blocked by freshman Adham Talaat (Springfield, Va.). Gallaudet's next drive went 10 plays, 43 yards but was stopped at the Castleton 37 when Gardner was stopped for no gain on fourth and one with 6:33 left in the game. The Spartans marched down the field and scored over two minutes later when M Wong ran in from a yard out to give Castleton a 28-20 lead.
Sophomore linebacker Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) led the Bison defense with 11 tackles. Freshman linebacker Steven Barber (Denver, Colo.) had a one sack for a loss of 12 yards, sophomore Clayton Grossinger (Frederick, Md.) recorded a sack for a loss of 10 yards and had five tackles and junior John Van Wey (Alexandria, Va.) made a sack for a loss of seven yards and recorded five tackles. GU finished the game with 81 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for a loss of 30 yards, three pass break-ups, one interception and one block. Castleton State was led by Cody Tancreti, Brandon Bergeron and Dustin Young who all made 10 tackles apiece in the win.
Gallaudet controlled the time of possession as the Bison held the ball for 36 minutes and 22 seconds. The Bison committed 16 penalties for 121 yards while Castleton State was whistled for seven penalties for 64 yards.
The two teams took part in today's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Coach to Cure MD. Gallaudet had an honorary captain with them today in Cane Bobatoon a 14-year-old with muscular dystrophy from nearby Northern Virginia. Both teams' coaches wore special AFCA patches to show their support for the Coach to Cure MD. If you are interested in making a donation please log onto www.coachtocuremd.org.
Gallaudet will next be in action on Saturday, October 2, when the Bison hit the road and travel to Bangor, Maine, to take on Husson University for a conference game that will kick-off at Noon.