GENEVA, N.Y.—Running back Steven Webb rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns as Hobart College defeated Gallaudet University 34-7 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship at Boswell Field today. The senior broke the Statesmen season rushing touchdown record with his 20th score of the year on a 58-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
The Hobart defense contained the nation's No. 4 rushing attack, limiting the Bison (9-2) to 276 yards rushing, nearly 41 yards below their season average. The Statesmen (10-0) came up with a pair of takeaways. The first was a fumble forced by junior defensive end Tyre Coleman that senior linebacker Devin Worthington scooped up and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. The second was a third quarter interception by first-year free safety Michael Harper, the first of his collegiate career, on one of only three passes attempted by GU, which relies on the triple option.
Coleman rang up a game-high 10 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. One week after Worthington broke the Hobart career tackles for loss record, Coleman surpassed his teammate. The junior now owns the mark with 63, while the senior is in second with 61.5. Sophomore defensive end Mark Guarino-Hyde matched his career-high with nine tackles and junior linebacker Jacob Price added eight stops.
Sophomore fullback BJ Flores ran for a career-high 176 yards and a TD for Gallaudet. Ryan Bonheyo added 63 yards on 10 carries. The Bison defense was led by senior free safety Nicholas Elstad, junior linebacker Gregg McConville, and sophomore nose tackle Chris Richardson, who produced nine tackles apiece.
Coleman and senior linebacker Cory Davis set the tone for the day, dropping sophomore running back Braxton Baker for an 8-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage. GU went three-and-out on that drive and got off a 32-yard punt into a strong wind.
Hobart took over at its own 46 and engineered a 14-play, 54-yard march that ended with a 2-yard plunge by Webb for a 7-0 lead. Gallaudet moved the chains on its ensuing possession, but stalled out just short of the red zone. The Bison elected to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the 22, but sophomore tackle Tucker Gumkowski stopped the run 1 yard short.
The Statesmen were forced to punt on their next drive, but Coleman and Worthington teamed up to get Hobart points anyway. The two-time Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year, Coleman met sophomore quarterback Quentin Williams 5 yards into the backfield and punched the ball out of his right hand. Worthington pounced on the loose ball and logged his second career scoop-and-score. The extra point was wide right, leaving the Statesmen a 13-0 lead with 12:49 remaining in the second quarter.
On their next drive, facing a fourth-and-1 at their own 31, the Bison again opted to go for it. This time Guarino-Hyde stuffed the run for no gain, giving the offense the ball with a short field. Three straight handoffs to Webb resulted in 3 yards, 27 yards, and 1 yard and another TD that put the home team in front 20-0.
Hobart logged its third TD of the second quarter on its next drive with another 14-play march. This time, the Statesmen covered 72 yards and ended with a 1-yard pass from junior quarterback Kyle Bayly to junior tight end Mike Berkowitz 34 seconds before halftime. Hobart carried a 27-0 lead into the break.
Webb broke the season rushing TD record on the very first play from scrimmage in the second half for a 34-0 lead and took the rest of the game off. Sophomore running backJustin Burke carried the ball nine times down the stretch, gaining a career-high 47 yards.
Gallaudet finally cracked the scoring column with a 16-play, 93-yard drive that used 6:23 off the game clock, spanning the third and fourth quarters. Flores finished the drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 34-7. The Bison had one more shot at the end zone with under four minutes remaining, but on fourth-and-goal from the 3, first-year defensive end James Hedger and senior tackle Cory Einbeck stopped Flores 2 yards short of the goal line.
Hobart advances to the second round where it will meet St. John Fisher College, a 25-16 winner at John Carroll today. The game will kickoff at noon on Saturday, Nov. 30. The NCAA will announce which team will host that contest on Sunday, Nov. 24.