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Men’s Interhall Football wrap-up

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sunday afternoon was a perfect fall day. The sun was out, a breeze was blowing and the sky was blue. Nevertheless, O’Neill felt as if it ran into a hurricane. Led by a dominating defensive line, Alumni mauled O’Neill 28-0.

The Dawgs started the game off on the right foot. They marched down the field behind the rushing of halfback Alex Roodhouse and a key fourth down scamper by senior quarterback Chris Cottingham. But O’Neill held firm in the red zone forcing Alumni to turn the ball over on downs.

The Angry Mob couldn’t move anywhere on the tough Alumni defense and was forced to punt. The Dawgs needed only three plays to score with Cottingham throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass with four minutes left in the first quarter. O’Neill then went three and out and gave the ball right back to Alumni. O’Neill’s defense lent a helping hand to their struggling offense when they made the first of its two interceptions off Cottingham.

Things were looking up for the O’Neill as they started with a first down on the Alumni 5-yard line. However, the Alumni defensive line was not going to give in as they forced O’Neill into a missed field goal.

O’Neill hoped to mix things up in the second half when the Angry Mob brought in quarterback Tommy Tiberio to replace Matt Hughey.

“We have a lot of confidence in both quarterbacks and we wanted to get each one of them on the field today,” O’Neill captain John Enterline said.

Unfortunately for O’Neill, neither quarterback could provide the answer.

Thanks to the domination of their defensive line and good decision making from Cottingham, the Dawgs broke open the game with three touchdowns in the second half. The first came on a 5-yard run by Alex Roodhouse early in the third quarter. The touchdown came after a couple of long Cottingham completions that moved the ball deep into Mob territory.

O’Neill went three and out again and Alumni took advantage of the punt. The Dawgs tore through the Mob defense, gaining big chunks of yardage on every play. Roodhouse waltzed into the end zone on a 4-yard run right as time expired in the third quarter for his second touchdown of the day.

Alumni poured it on as they intercepted Tiberio on the next possession and returned it deep into Mob territory. Cottingham scored a few plays later on a spectacular run around right end to make the final score 28-0. Cottingham was pleased with his team’s play and is looking forward to next week.

“The line was extremely solid on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Our defense put a lot of pressure on O’Neill. Morrissey looked tough in their game this afternoon but we feel confident after today’s win,”

Enterline was disappointed about the outcome of the game but gracious in defeat.

“I have to give credit to Alumni. They’re a very good football team,” he said. “I don’t think the score shows the effort today. There are a lot of positives we can take from this game and there is no reason we can’t be a good football team this year.”

Morrissey 14, Keough 0

The strong defense of Keough could not handle Morrissey’s explosive offense in the Manor’s 14-0 victory in the season opener for both teams Sunday afternoon.

Morrissey scored on its first drive with a Marty Mooney 56-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open John Mulligan. The two-point conversion was successful and the Manor led 8-0.

The following two series showed the two teams’ powerful defenses. Keough was stuffed near midfield on third down and again on fourth and short. Similarly, in the beginning of the second quarter, Morrissey turned the ball over on downs after they were stopped on a fourth down play at the 47-yard line.

Keough gave the ball back when the Morrissey defense recovered a fumble. With good field position, Morrissey moved the ball down to Keough’s 15-yard line with a couple of nice passes from Mooney to tight end Dave Purcell. However, the Keough defense held and John McCarthy intercepted Mooney on a tipped pass at the 5-yard line.

In the second half, Morrissey recovered a fumble after Keough quarterback Brian Kusper was hit as he was about to throw the ball. The Manor countered with an amazing 26-yard diving catch by Mulligan at the one-yard line.

This pass set up a touchdown run by Mooney. The two-point conversion failed, but the Manor extended its lead to 14-0.

On the ensuing drive, Keough made another costly turnover after gaining good yardage from a 15-yard pass interference penalty and a 20-yard pass. The Morrissey defense stripped the ball after a short screen pass. The Manor moved the ball to near midfield with a Mulligan reverse and a 15-yard pass to Purcell. The Manor was forced to punt after a sack on third down, though.

Keough went after the punt, and Kyle LeClare came up with a huge block to give the Kangaroos the ball at Morrissey’s 38 midway through the fourth quarter. But after two 4-yard screens, Kusper threw an untimely interception that gave up the ball late in the game. Morrissey ran out the clock and walked away with the victory.

“The defensive and offensive line dominated today,” Morrissey captain Aaron Ronsheim said. “The only way they could really move the ball was on our penalties,” he explained.

Morrissey’s defense also shined in this game as they earned a shut out. The Manor had three sacks and made four turnovers: three fumble recoveries and an interception.

“This is the first step to a successful season, and definitely something to build on,” Ronsheim said.

Keough captain John McCarthy admitted Morrissey was a good team, but felt the game came down to a few plays.

“Besides the two big pass plays in the first and third quarters, we played pretty well,” McCarthy said. “We had too many turnovers, probably due to inexperience. We didn’t play poorly, but we definitely have a lot to work on.”

Keenan 6, Stanford 0

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Holding Stanford to a meager 32 yards, Keenan coupled efficient, ball-control offense with stifling defense as the Knights rode a late first half-fumble return to a 6-0 opening day victory over the Griffins Sunday.

“Our goal coming into the game was to shut them out,” Knight freshman Adam Fischer said.  “We knew that the offense might struggle since they didn’t have much time to put in plays during practice. It was nice to get that shutout.”

Using a trio of tailbacks, Keenan consistently kept the Stanford offense on the sideline as the Knights steadily picked up yards. Freshman tailback Alex Staffieri carried the bulk of the offensive load, rushing for 70 yards and frequently moving the chains.

While Staffieri’s running was instrumental in the Knights avenging last year’s 14-6 opening day loss to Stanford, it was the Keenan defense that stole the spotlight.

Shortly after Keenan failed to take advantage of a mid-second quarter interception by junior John Hart by losing the ball on downs at the Stanford 34-yard line. The Griffins curiously decided to go for it on fourth-and seven-from their own 37-yard line.  

Rolling left, Stanford quarterback Rich Whitney tossed to the tailback who was immediately crushed by jarring the ball loose. Fischer promptly scooped up the ball and scampered 35 yards for what would be the game’s only score.

“They tried to run the option and one of our guys made a nice play that left the running back out to dry,” Fischer said.  “I was just fortunate to be in the right place to make a hit and cause the fumble.”

In addition to the Fischer fumble return and Hart interception, senior Brian Long recorded a crucial sack to stunt a fourth quarter Stanford drive, and freshman Eric Laumann picked off a Whitney pass late in the fourth. Keenan’s defense combined with Stanford offensive miscues to prevent the Griffins from building any sustained momentum during the contest.

“With it being the first game, it was a little hard to get things moving on offense and we were unprepared,” Stanford captain Dave Marques said.  “Their defensive was more than solid though … they definitely have some players over there.”

Having already matched last year’s win total – the Knights finished 1-3 – Keenan will enjoy a bye week before challenging O’Neill on Oct. 5. Stanford, on the other hand, will attempt to rebound when the Griffins meet the Angry Mob this Sunday.