PAXTON, Mass. – An improbable comeback by Gallaudet University ended in the third overtime Saturday when junior defensive back Tony Tatum (Gardendale, Ala.) came down with his second interception of the season to give the Bison a thrilling 48-40 victory on the road against Anna Maria College. Gallaudet survived its Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opener but not with ease as both teams had chances to win the game multiple times. The AMCATS suffered defeat for a 23rd time since the program's inception three years ago.
Gallaudet (2-2, 1-0 ECFC) scored the game's first 13 points and then proceeded to turn the ball over three consecutive times in the second quarter and twice to begin the third quarter which turned into three Anna Maria touchdowns. The AMCATS (0-4, 0-2) scored 34 unanswered points before the Bison mounted a miraculous comeback of their own and scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime period, the Bison were on offense first and scored on a Michael Hantge (Hutchinson, Minn.) four-yard run to cap an 8-play drive. Sophomore kicker Jeremy Cormier (Methuen, Mass.) missed the point after attempt as Gallaudet led 40-34. Anna Maria quickly found itself in a fourth and 11 scenario at the Gallaudet 26 but quarterback Santino Simone (20-for-36, 316 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions) was able to hit Gregory Caldwell for a touchdown to tie the game. AMCAT kicker Jamal Mitchell came out to make the extra-point kick and win the game but Gallaudet blocked his attempt. The ball ended up in the end zone where Anna Maria recovered what was thought to be a two-point conversion but the call was overturned after the referees discussed the play and explained an offensive team cannot move the ball forward on a blocked extra-point attempt.
Anna Maria started the second overtime period and saw its drive stall at the 8-yard line and sent Mitchell in for a 25-yard field goal attempt, which he missed wide left. The door was open for Gallaudet to win the game as the Bison took the field. Junior quarterback Gabriel Paulone (Fishers, Ind.) threw back-to-back incomplete passes before he hit sophomore wide receiver Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) for 14 yards on 4th and seven. AMCAT sophomore linebacker Jordan Koehler (15 tackles) came up with two big tackles in the backfield to push the Bison back to the 13-yard line on fourth down. Cormier trotted out to attempt a 29-yard field goal to win the game. His kick sailed through the air but clanked off the right upright to send the game to a third overtime.
Paulone (11-for-18, 114 yards, one touchdown) and company wasted little time on their possession as the signal caller ran 10 yards, handed the ball to Elstad (10 carries, 29 yards) for a four-yard pickup and then called his own number as he ran 11 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead score. NCAA rules state in the third overtime period teams must go for two-points after a score. Paulone ran in to convert the two-point conversion and give the Bison a 48-40 lead. Simone gained two yards on the ensuing possession then threw two incomplete passes before he threw up a pass that Tatum came down with to end the exhilarating contest.
"This year things haven't always gone our way as we have lost some close games but today our guys found a way to get the job done," said second year Gallaudet head coach Chuck Goldstein. "It was by far one of the most exciting games I ever been a part of. This team stayed together and gave it their all and it was their effort that put us over the top in the end!"
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