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Siegfried earns the opportunity to defend title

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 11, 2003

It was worth the wait.

Siegfried had to anxiously endure four overtimes of Dillon and Keenan before finally taking the field, but the defending champions get the chance to repeat, as the second seeded Ramblers outlasted third seeded Morriseey 10-6 Sunday afternoon.

With the victory, Siegfried will advance to the interhall championship game at Notre Dame Stadium for the third consecutive year.

In a battle of high profile quarterbacks, Rambler Bill Bingle out-dueled Morrissey’s Marty Mooney, completing 12-of-19 pass attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown. Mooney finished the day 15-of-26 for 140 yards with a touchdown toss and an interception.

The clear skies and crisp air did not reflect Siegfried’s play in the first quarter, however. Fullback John Hughes fumbled on the Rambler’s third play from scrimmage and Morrissey took possession at the Siegfried 47-yard line.

Mooney kept the Manorite drive alive by picking up two crucial third downs with pass completions of 21 and 15 yards. The Manorites finally capitalized when Mooney scrambled and bought just enough time to find Matt Young in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Turnovers continued to plague the Ramblers as they lost another fumble two plays into their next possession.

“We were pretty pumped at that point,” Morrissey running back Nick Klein said. “We thought we had a chance after we got the fumble to put the nail in the coffin.”

Morrissey tried to go for that knock-out punch, electing to go for the first down on fourth-and-three from the Siegfried nine-yard line. Morrissey’s gamble initially appeared to pay off as Mooney completed an eight yard reception to give the offense first-and-goal on the one.

But the Ramblers got a jolt of life when defensive end Kevin Phipps stripped Mooney of the football. Fellow lineman Vince Siciliano recovered the ball on the Siegfried 3-yard line. The significance of the play was not lost on Rambler coach John Torgensen.

“That was the biggest play of the game,” he said. “If they would have gone up 12 or 14 to zero on us, then it would have been a long uphill battle.”

While Siegfried did not score on the ensuing possession, the fumble significantly deflated Morrissey’s momentum. After holding Morrissey to three and out, Siegfried got the ball back with time running out in the half. Bingle made two quick completions to receivers John Kaup and Marques Bolden and then took a shot downfield. With a defender draped around his legs, the 6-foot-5 Bingle stood tall in the pocket and launched a 44-yard strike to a streaking Bolden for a Siegfried touchdown.

“It was a fly route,” Bolden said afterward. “The play was supposed to go the opposite way, but Bingle told me to try and beat my guy, and that’s exactly what I did.”

John Nowak added the extra point to send the Ramblers into halftime with a 7-6 lead.

Siegfried continued to establish its offense in the second half. The Ramblers put together a 13-play, 68-yard drive, ending with a 32-yard Nowak field goal. The score gave Siegfried a 10-6 fourth quarter lead with the clock working against Morrissey.

Starting from their own 35, the Manorites began to respond, driving the ball into Siegfried territory. But just as the Rambler fortunes turned on a fumble, they used another to seal the victory. Cornerback John Lira knocked the ball loose from a Morrissey receiver, and Bingle picked up the fumble. After tacking on a 15-yard personal foul penalty, the ball was finally spotted on the Manorite 28.

Siegfried could not run down the clock, but Morrissey simply ran out of time. Mooney’s last desperate heave from midfield was intercepted by Mark Ryan, and the Rambler celebration began.

Despite the loss, Klein still considers the season a success.

“We got farther than we did last year,” he said “We made it to the semis this time and had a strong regular season,”

For the Siegfried juniors and seniors making their third stadium trip, the taste of victory never loses its flavor.

“It doesn’t get old,” Bingle said. “It’s pretty sweet every time.”

Bolden, a first-year member of the team, says there is something special about the first time.

“[Last year] I wasn’t a part of that, so this year I finally get to experience what it’s like to play in the stadium,” he said. “I’m ready to get a win, get a jacket, get a championship.”