Gallaudet's run ends in playoff debut
GENEVA, N.Y. (AP)
Steven Webb rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns as Hobart ended Gallaudet's magical season 34-7 in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs on Saturday.
Gallaudet (9-2), a university for the deaf and hard of hearing, made its first ever NCAA tournament appearance in 118 years of existence. The Bison won its first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title and tied a school record with nine wins.
Hobart (10-0) scored 20 points in the second quarter to blow the game open. Devin Worthington had a 48-yard fumble return, Webb scored from 1-yard out and Mike Berkowitz caught a pass from the 1. Webb scored again from 58 yards out on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Webb set Hobart's single-season record for rushing touchdowns with 20.
BJ Flores scored the first Gallaudet touchdown in the postseason on his 1-yard run with 12:13 left in the fourth quarter.
"Our kids never quit. They never hung their heads. They didn't stop fighting. I'm proud of our guys, not just today, but this entire year," coach Chuck Goldstein told WTOP. "They put Gallaudet on the map."
Gallaudet has been a national sensation this season. The team was invited to practice at the New York Giants facility. A Washington Redskins player served as an honorary captain for a pregame coin toss. Reporters descended upon the school to tell its story.
''With this run,'' Goldstein said, ''we've definitely made some new friends.''
''There's no question people around the nation know who Gallaudet University is,'' Goldstein said. ''They know about our football program, but they know about our university and what we can provide for deaf and hard of hearing people. It's been exciting, there's no question about it. It's been a learning experience, how to handle the pressure of competing at a high level, week-in and week-out.''
The new visitors on campus have given coach and players a chance to dispel a few misconceptions. First of all, it's ''GAH-leh-DET.'' (The ''u'' is silent.) Secondly, the students are either ''deaf'' or ''hard of hearing'' — not ''hearing impaired.''
''And sometimes they assume that you have to talk very slowly,'' said defensive end Adham Talaat, who is hard of hearing and could become the school's first NFL player. ''But, honestly, we either have interpreters, or some of the players, they're able to speak for themselves, like myself. Other than that, it's just being politically correct. You can't say `hearing impaired.' The deaf community feels very strongly about that. We don't see it as an impairment. We just can't hear. That's it.''
Not that they would trade the exposure for anything.
''This is one of the best recruiting tools we've been able to have,'' Goldstein said. ''We've reached out to kids all over the country that maybe who are deaf or hard of hearing and didn't know about Gallaudet, they saw something on the news. I can't reply to the emails fast enough.''
Goldstein has also heard from long-lost alumni. ''We'll be asking for donations soon for rings,'' he said with a laugh. The Bison's newfound fame got them on the Giants' field before the 7-6 road loss to Maritime in their regular season finale. ''We practiced in their new indoor facility, which was beautiful, which we'll never do again because we didn't win,'' he said with another laugh.
Redskins safety Reed Doughty, who wears hearing aids, brought his family to the home win over Anna Maria and took part in the coin toss wearing a Bison jersey. Doughty also started following Talaat on Twitter.
''That definitely made my day,'' Talaat said. ''My jaw dropped.''