WASHINGTON, D.C. – History and time was not on Gallaudet University's side Friday night at Hotchkiss Field as the Bison suffered a gut-wrenching 45-41 loss to cross-town rival Catholic University of America before a crowd of 900. Gallaudet was within minutes of beating Catholic for the first-time in 26 chances in a series that dates back to 1906.
The Cardinals (2-0) scored three touchdowns in less then five minutes to rip victory away from the Bison (0-2). GU had a chance to win the game in the final minute as it moved the ball 57 yards in seven plays down to the Catholic 19-yard line but a holding penalty and a negative rushing attempt pushed the Bison back to the 30 with a few seconds left. Junior quarterback Gabriel Paulone (Fishers, Ind.) was forced to spike the ball on third down which led to an incomplete pass on fourth down to end the game.
Paulone scored Gallaudet's final touchdown with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter as he ran in from 24 yards out. He ran for a game-high 111 rushing yards on 19 carries and completed 9-of-19 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
GU's 41-24 lead would begin to evaporate as Catholic's quick-strike offense, led by junior quarterback Greg Cordivari, would mount its second fourth quarter comeback in as many weeks. Catholic rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter last week against McDaniel to win 39-36.
Cordivari (28-for-44, 304 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) only needed six plays to find Tanner Keefe on a 41-yard pass to cut into the Bison lead, 41-31, with 6:39 left in regulation. On the ensuing possession, Paulone tossed an incomplete pass before sophomore running back Michael Hantge (Hutchinson, Minn.) fumbled away the ball at Gallaudet's own 29-yard line.
Gallaudet continued to hurt its own cause as the Bison got slapped with a pass interference call which placed the ball on the 14 where Cordivari threw the next pass to junior wide receiver Jeff Frusciante for the touchdown. GU still clung to a 41-38 lead but the Cardinals' 14-0 run in 32 seconds definitely swayed momentum to the visitors.
The Bison went back to its rushing attack on its next series and tried to use the clock to their advantage as Catholic was forced to use one of its timeouts to try and stop the clock. GU racked up 245 rushing yards on 51 attempts in the game. Gallaudet was approaching midfield before Paulone coughed up the ball at the 40-yard line and gave the Cardinals a chance to take the lead with 3:55 left in regulation.
Cordivari went back to work and completed four passes to three different receivers as the drive ended with sophomore Mike Pitsenberger (19 carries, 70 yards) running in from a yard out with a minute and 51 seconds left on the scoreboard.
The four-point loss was the closes game between Gallaudet and Catholic since a 23-21 contest back in 1981. The 41 points scored are the most by a Gallaudet team against Catholic. In fact, over the past four games in the series Gallaudet only scored a combined 37 points. The 86 combined points by the two teams are the second most ever in the series since a 91-0 win by Catholic in 1931.
Gallaudet controlled the game in the first half as the Bison received the opening kick-off and marched 41 yards in just under three minutes to the end zone. Freshman Quentin Williams (Chesapeake, Va.) rushed in from eight yards out to put the Bison on the board.
GU led 7-0 after the first quarter and added to that lead when sophomore Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) capped off the best drive of the night for the Bison with a five-yard touchdown run. Gallaudet chewed up nearly nine minutes on 14 plays covering 83 yards.
The Bison defense forced the Cardinals to punt three times on its first four possessions and even picked off Cordivari on Catholic's third possession. Defensive back Neal DiMarco (Queens, N.Y.), a senior co-captain, came up with the interception at the Gallaudet five and returned it 95 yards for the touchdown.
Catholic went three and out on its next possession which allowed the Bison to tack onto their lead when Elstad caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Paulone. GU scored four touchdowns on its first five possessions. The quick score by the Bison covered 70 yards on five plays in two minutes and 36 seconds.
The Cardinals responded with an 80-yard kick-off return by Andrew Ouellette with 4:04 left before halftime. Gallaudet received the next kick-off as Williams raced up field 26 yards but the ball came loose and Catholic recovered at midfield. Cordivari hit Ouellette from 30 yards out with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. GU took a 28-14 lead into halftime.
CUA scored 10 points to begin the third quarter as kicker Brian Gongaware hit a 21-yard field goal and Cordivari threw a 13-yard touchdown to Keefe with 4:11 left in the quarter. The ensuing kick-off saw Williams break free and bust down the sideline 85 yards for the touchdown to increase Gallaudet's lead to 35-24 as the teams went into the decisive fourth quarter. Williams finished the game with 207 all-purpose yards as he returned five kickoffs for 181 yards and one touchdown.
The 41 points scored by the Bison are the most under Coach Chuck Goldstein against a NCAA Division III opponent. This is the seventh straight loss for the Bison by eight or less points dating back to last season.
Freshman linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) led all defensive players with 17 tackles in the game followed by junior co-captain Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) who recorded 11 tackles for the Bison. Senior linebacker Ty Primous (Lynwood, Ill.) had the game's lone sack, a loss of 11 yards. Catholic senior defensive back James Fucillo led the Cardinals with 11 tackles.
GU led the time of possession battle as the Bison logged 33 minutes and 40 seconds in the game but was penalized 12 times for 125 yards compared to Catholic getting called seven times for 75 yards. The Bison fumbled the ball five times and lost three. GU junior wide receiver Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) the reigning Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week led the Bison with five receptions for 68 yards in the loss.
The Bison are off next week before they travel to Newport News, Va., on Saturday, September 24, to take on Apprentice School at 1 p.m.