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.
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