WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2010 Gallaudet University football season came to a close on a cold Saturday night under the lights at Hotchkiss Field before a crowd of 800 as the Bison watched SUNY Maritime College celebrate an undefeated regular season. Maritime, the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) champions, scored the game-winning touchdown with under two minutes left in regulation as the Privateers (10-0, 7-0 ECFC) won 21-14.
The Bison (5-5, 3-4 ECFC) were in position early in the fourth quarter to take the lead over the Privateers but unfortunately Gallaudet's final 15 minutes in its season turned into missed opportunities. GU had four possessions that ended with a missed field goal, punt, fumble and an interception. The Bison executed 17 plays in the fourth quarter for 39 yards.
Senior kicker Justin Wilson (Carmichael, Calif.) lined up for a 27-yard field goal with 13:17 left in regulation but his kick, which had enough distance, was ruled no good. The Bison started their next two drives near midfield but those drives ended up with no points and gave the ball back to Maritime. The Bison fumble at midfield with 5:42 left in the game proved to be the difference. The Privateers marched 47 yards on seven plays on the game-winning drive. Junior fullback Jamie Spanopoulos plunged into the end zone from four yards out with 1:58 left.
Maritime becomes the first undefeated champion in the two-year history of the ECFC. The Privateers will await the official announcement of the NCAA Division III tournament field to see if their season will continue with a postseason run.
"I am really proud of our team to finish undefeated. To be able to make it through our conference [undefeated], and we have had some battles, is tough," said Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes. "It has been a special season."
Before the start of the game this evening the Gallaudet University athletics department and the football program presented a plaque to Coach Kendrick-Holmes to honor him for his impending deployment to Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy officer upon the completion of the season. Kendrick-Holmes' story has grabbed national attention as ESPN and CBS Sports filmed the Gallaudet-Maritime game this evening for future stories on the Privateer coach.
GU started the game off on the right foot as the Bison received the opening kick-off and scored a touchdown 1:31 into the first quarter. Senior quarterback Jimmy Gardner (St. Augustine, Fla.) tossed a 61-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.). Wilson's extra-point attempt failed.
Gallaudet coach Chuck Goldstein rolled the dice on the ensuing kick-off and elected for an onsides kick that the Bison recovered. The next play would doom the Bison for the remainder of the game and scrap their game plan. Gardner was brought down for a five-yard loss by sophomore linebacker Keith Barnes (nine tackles) and hobbled off with a knee injury and would not return. Sophomore back-up Anthony Palmer (Unadilla, N.Y.) was thrust into the game where he finished under center for the Bison. Palmer completed 5-of-13 passes for 74 yards and one interception.
The Bison held the 6-0 lead until early in the second quarter when sophomore quarterback Joe Dickey busted loose for 21 yards and the touchdown. Dickey finished the game with a game-high 98 yards on the ground on 14 carries and 0-for-9 passing.
GU punted twice in the second quarter while Maritime scored touchdowns on 2-of-3 possessions. The last possession for the Privateers came later in the first half and ended with a Fritz Jean 30-yard touchdown run down the sideline to give Maritime a 14-6 lead at the break.
The Bison tied the game midway through the third quarter when sophomore Phillip Hayes (Baton Rouge, La.) scored from nine yards out. The touchdown ended an 8-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:20 off the clock. Gallaudet went for the two-point conversion to tie the game. Palmer received the ball under center and handed it off to senior running back Cole Johnson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) who threw the ball to a wide-open Worsham in the right corner to knot the game at 14. Worsham finished the game with a career-high 149 yards, his third 100-yard receiving game this year.
Maritime held the Bison rushing attack to their lowest total of the year (75 yards on 37 carries). Hayes led the team with 28 yards on seven carries. The 75 yards on the ground is the lowest Gallaudet has rushed for since November 1, 2008, when it lost 38-7 to Mount Ida College.
The Privateers, the second leading rushing team in the ECFC ahead of Gallaudet and behind Norwich, ran for 275 yards on 52 attempts. Gallaudet surrendered 200 plus rushing yards for the third time this year and the 275 total is the second highest against the Bison defense. Maritime threw for 24 yards on a Tyler Trodden pass in the second quarter. The passing total is the lowest the Bison defense has surrendered this season and the lowest since October 10, 2009, against Norwich University.
Sophomore linebacker Tom Pangia (Hammonton, N.J.) tallied a game-high 12 tackles in the loss for the Bison. Sophomore defensive back Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.) made seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss of three yards. Sophomore linebacker Pat Lasher made 11 tackles to lead the Privateers.
"It was an exciting season," said Goldstein, who completed his first year at the helm and second with the program. "It was tough to watch Maritime celebrate a perfect regular-season because that easily could had been us. We lost five games by 25 combined points. All of our losses were by eight points or less. That's one score. We need to learn from those games and start working on the 2011 season."
This was the last game for the Bison seniors who are out of eligibility including linebacker Joshua Doudt (Medina, Ohio), Wilson, Gardner, Johnson, linebacker Dmitry Rossoshansky (Chicago, Ill.), defensive lineman Ricky Bailey (Willingboro, N.J.) and lineman Michel Daze' (Frederick, Md.).
"Our senior class helped to build a strong foundation for our future," said Goldstein. "Teams are not going to take us lightly moving forward."