WASHINGTON, D.C. – Castleton's historic season rolled on in the nation's capital on Saturday as the Spartans rallied from an early 20-7 deficit to capture a 28-20 Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) victory over Gallaudet University.
The Spartans have now won five-straight to improve to 6-2, 5-0 on the season. The six wins sets a new program record, but most importantly Castleton is assured the opportunity to play for the ECFC title on Saturday, November 10 at Spartan Stadium versus Mount Ida. Both the Spartans and Mustangs sit at 5-0 with two games remaining, and with their closest conference competitors sitting with two losses the season will come down to a winner-take-all showdown.
Shane Brozowski (Rensselaer, N.Y.) threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, completing 28-of-49 pass attempts to lead the high-powered offense, but it was the Spartan defense and special teams that proved crucial to sealing the win.
After Ryan Bonheyo's (Frederick, Md.) third touchdown with 1:23 remaining in the first half put the Bison on top 20-7, the defense and special teams went to work, clamping down and holding Gallaudet scoreless for the final 31:23.
Mick Wong (Hartford, Vt.) ignited the rally with a block of the point-after-try, and the momentum carried the Spartan offense 47 yards in 53 seconds to cut the lead to 20-14 at halftime. Brozowski found Tyler Carpenter (Fort Edward, N.Y.) for the score just before the interval.
After forcing a punt to start the second half, the Castleton offense marched 62 yards on 11 plays down to the Gallaudet seven-yard line, where Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.) broke up a fourth-down pass to Carpenter.
The Spartan defense then forced a fumble that Peter Mancini (North Smithfield, R.I.) recovered at the Bison 18.
This time there was no stalling the offense, and Brozowski found Brandon Boyle (Springfield, Vt.) in the end zone seven plays later on fourth down to snare a 21-20 lead after Dave Fox's (Troy, N.Y.) PAT.
Gallaudet drove into Spartan territory on the ensuing drive, but once again it was a huge special teams play by Wong, this time a blocked 33-yard field goal attempt, that snuffed out the scoring chance.
Four possessions later it was Brozowski finding Boyle on a third-and-ten from the Gallaudet 18-yard line that pushed the lead to 28-20 with just over two minutes remaining. The touchdown capped a seven-play, 30-yard drive that was set up by yet another Spartan defensive stop.
Carpenter finished with 83 yards and a touchdown on 19 rushing attempts to go along with his eight-catch, 80-yard performance on the receiving end. Kevin Alberque (Ridgefield Park, N.J.) led the receiving corps with 110 yards on eight catches, while Boyle finished with 69 on six catches to go along with his two scores.
Ryan Bonheyo finished with 179 yards on nine carries, the bulk of which came on an 83-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. Brother, Todd finished with 83 yards on 11 carries, and a 1-for-4 day with 21 yards passing before leaving the game in favor of Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who finished with 79 yards on 17 attempts and an interception late in the game to seal the Bisons' fate.
Brandon Bergeron (Hartford, Vt.) led the Spartan defense with 10 tackles, while Cameron Laundry (Hartland, Vt.) added nine including one for a loss. Wong added seven and a QB hurry to his stat-line, while Todd Carr (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) had six and a forced fumble.
Castleton takes to the road next Saturday to take on Husson University at 1 pm, before returning home for its date with Mount Ida.