WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University football team suffered a gut wrenching loss to the hands of Mount Ida College, 22-16, on a blustery Saturday afternoon at Hotchkiss Field before a crowd of 450. The visiting Mustangs scored 14 unanswered points in the second half without their star running back en route to the come from behind win between the two Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) foes.
Mount Ida (4-2, 3-1 ECFC) lost its preseason All-American junior tailback Johrone Bunch early in the game as he went down with a knee injury midway through the first quarter. The conference leading rusher came back into the game in the second quarter and on his first carry immediately went down with the same knee injury. He left the game and did not return as he finished with two carries for four yards. Last season against Gallaudet, Bunch ran for 137 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown as the Mustangs won 23-6.
Gallaudet (3-4, 1-3 ECFC) set the tone early on as the Bison marched right down the field on their opening drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Jimmy Gardner (St. Augustine, Fla.). Gardner's seventh touchdown run of the season capped a 5-play, 42-yard drive and lasted just two minutes and 21 seconds.
Mount Ida's opening drive only lasted a minute as on the third play quarterback Scott Drosendahl (22-for-34, 288 yards) was intercepted by senior linebacker Joshua Doudt (Medina, Ohio) at the Gallaudet 44. Doudt took off down the sideline towards the end zone and made it to within a few yards but a Bison penalty forced the Buff and Blue to start the drive at the Mustang 44.
Gallaudet had its drive stall at the Mustang 16 and forced the Bison to attempt a 33-yard field goal. Senior kicker Justin Wilson (Carmichael, Calif.) converted the kick as Gallaudet held a quick 10-0 lead with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Paul Shaughnessy (20 carries, 81 yards) ran the ball in from a yard out for the touchdown. Mount Ida went for two and converted when Drosendahl hit junior wide receiver Nick Lynch with the three-yard pass to cut the Bison lead to two, 10-8.
GU responded on the next drive when it only needed three plays to find the end zone. Senior running back Cole Johnson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) took a reverse and ran 47 yards for the score at the 10:45 mark before the half. The Bison botched the extra-point attempt as a low snap led Johnson to try and run the ball in but he was tackled short of the end zone. Gallaudet led 16-8 at intermission.
The Bison offense missed opportunities in the second half as a Mustang fumble led to a missed field goal and two possessions later Gardner (5-for-11, 46 yards) threw an interception in the Mount Ida end zone to stop a 13-play, 53-yard drive late in the third quarter. GU only had the ball twice in the fourth quarter and led to a punt a turnover on downs at the end of the game.
Drosendahl threw an 8-yard pass late in the third quarter to pull the Mustangs to within two, 16-14, as the two-point conversion pass failed. The sophomore quarterback engineered the game-winning drive midway through the fourth quarter. The Mustangs went 80 yards on five plays for the game-winner. Drosendahl ran the ball in from five yards out with 4:13 left in the game.
Gardner finished with a team-high 53 yards on the ground on 19 carries. Johnson had 47 yards on the touchdown run and freshman Michael Hantge (Hutchinson, Minn.) was effective in the second half as he ran seven times for 46 yards. The Bison finished with 205 yards on the ground and 251 yards of total offense, their lowest total of the season.
Mount Ida was held to 102 total yards on the ground, its second lowest mark of the season, while the 288 passing yards was the second most in the season for the Mustangs.
Doudt led all tacklers with 10 tackles, nine solo, and had one interception and 22 return yards for the Bison. Sophomore linebacker Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) finished with seven tackles, one for a loss of five yards and forced and recovered a fumble. Junior defensive back Kevin Berrigan (Frederick, Md.) had six tackles and Gallaudet's only sack for six yards. Gardner was sacked twice by the Mustang defense in the loss.
Gallaudet will hit the road next week when the Bison travel to Leicester, Mass., to take on ECFC foe Becker College on Saturday, October 23, at noon.