WINCHESTER, Va. - A timely turnover and a promising first offensive drive, that ended in a touchdown, got the Gallaudet University football season off on the right foot. Unfortunately, the euphoric excitement from scoring first against Shenandoah University here Saturday night at Shentel Stadium was quickly erased. The Hornets picked apart the Bison defense and ran away with a 40-14 victory in the season opener.
Shenandoah (1-0) was poised to strike first but running back Mario Wisdom (11 carries, 71 yards) fumbled at the two-yard line and the ball fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback.
Gallaudet (0-1) went to work and put together a methodical 10-play drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.) to freshman wide receiver Jordan Martin (Kansas City, Kan.). The GU drive chewed up five minutes and 21 seconds.
A light mist turned into a steady rain as night fell in the northern Shenandoah Valley and as conditions deteriorated things got sloppy for the Bison offense. GU turned the ball over on two consecutive drives in the first half which led to 14 points for the Hornets. SU scored 27 unanswered points as it took a 20-point lead into halftime.
Shenandoah outscored Gallaudet 13-7 in the second half as it outgained the Bison 210-106. The Hornets finished with 556 yards of offense (437 passing yards) while the Bison finished with 324 yards of offense (250 rushing yards on 61 carries).
Freshman strong safety Jack Gray (Atherton, Calif.) made a third quarter interception for the Bison with the Hornets trying to get into the red zone. The interception provided a spark as Gallaudet marched 81 yards on 11 plays and scored its second touchdown on a 18-yard run by senior Cody Paulay-Simmons (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii). The touchdown closed the gap to a three-score game, 33-14.
Sophomore Jake Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) led the Bison with 65 rushing yards on 12 carries and broke off a team best 35-yard run. Benton finished the game with 63 rushing yards on 16 carries while he completed 4 of 10 passes for 74 yards and one touchdown.
Junior linebacker Louie Akuffo (Bowie, Md.) led the Bison with nine tackles (seven solo) as sophomore linebacker Mason Gooch (Mount Sterling, Ky.) added seven tackles (five solo).
Shenandoah quarterback Hayden Bauserman completed 32 of 56 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Ashwell led the Hornets with 10 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.