WINCHESTER, Va. – Gallaudet University celebrated and danced the night away Saturday as the Bison football team handed Shenandoah University a 31-20 loss in the season opener for both teams before 1,312 at Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium. This is the first season-opening win for Gallaudet since 2007 when the Bison defeated St. Vincent, 32-13.
Sophomore quarterback Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) and older brother Ryan Bonheyocombined to score Gallaudet's four touchdowns. Todd Bonheyo (10 carries, 68 yards) ran in the first two scores on runs of 31 and one, respectively, as GU led early 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Shenandoah (0-1) used a bag of trick plays to keep them in the game as the Hornets converted on a fake punt in the first quarter with a 37-yard pass to Sean Blackman from Justin Neff (19-for-26, 219 yards). Four plays later, the Hornets found the end zone as Josh Wells plunged in from three yards out to cut the Bison lead to 14-7. The score was the first in the Scott Yoder era, the new head coach for Shenandoah.
"We expected it [trick plays]. We just have some young and inexperienced guys on special teams," said Gallaudet coach Chuck Goldstein. "We will learn from it and I can guarantee that it won't happen next week. I am going to take responsibility as a coaching staff for that, we should have been better prepared for that."
Gallaudet (1-0), who scored points in every quarter, upped its lead to 21-7 when sophomore quarterback Quentin Williams (Chesapeake, Va.) connected on a 23-yard pass to Ryan Bonheyo down the sideline. Williams finished the game with six carries for 44 yards and the 23-yard touchdown pass in his first game since Oct. 29, 2011.
The Bison defense held against Shenandoah late in the second quarter and forced a field goal attempt, only to watch Drew Ferguson fake the kick and throw a 27-yard touchdown to Miles Green with 1:22 left before halftime. GU took a 21-14 advantage into the intermission.
"We made some mistakes on special teams. This was our first game," said Goldstein. "Our approach this season is one game at a time. We will take this game and look at it, make some adjustments and then focus on Apprentice."
The Bison defense was stout on third down as Shenandoah went 0-for-11 in the game but the Hornets stung Gallaudet on fourth down attempts (4-for-5). Gallaudet also limited Shenandoah to only 57 yards on the ground on 28 carries.
Junior linebacker Gregg McConville (Frederick, Md.) led the Bison with nine tackles (six solos) and one sack for a loss of seven yards. Fellow junior linebackers Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) had eight tackles and Nico Santiago (Moorestown, N.J.) made the game's only interception and returned it nine yards. Senior defensive end Adham Talaat (Springfield, Va.) led the team with 1.5 tackles for a loss of 10 yards, three tackles and one forced fumble. Junior Tyler Snider (Thornville, Ohio) forced two fumbles, recovered one fumble, made four tackles and had one sack for a loss of eight yards.
Gallaudet used a 10 play, 68-yard drive to begin the third quarter and concluded with a Todd Bonheyo 2-yard touchdown run as the Bison upped their lead to 28-14.
"That was big. We really struggled in the third quarter last year. That has been our biggest issue the past couple seasons. It has been very important for us to score on the first drive. It is a big confidence booster for us. That is a goal we set out to accomplish each week," said Todd Bonheyo after the game.
Sophomore kicker Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.) connected on a 34-yard field goal attempt at the 2:24 mark in the fourth quarter as GU led 31-14. Shenandoah tacked on a final touchdown in the waning seconds but the extra-point attempt failed.
GU ran the ball 60 times and racked up 390 yards on the ground and had 454 yards of total offense. Sophomore running back BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) ran for a career best 121 yards on 22 carries while Ryan Bonheyo ran for 93 yards on 11 carries.
This is the first win for Gallaudet in the series history as Shenandoah won back-to-back games in 2000, '01 and holds a 2-1 edge over the Bison.
Gallaudet will begin its home schedule on Saturday, Sept. 14, when the Bison welcome Apprentice School to Hotchkiss Field for a 1 p.m. game.