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Men’s Interhall Football: The final countdown

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, October 3, 2006

With an opportunity to clean up the playoff picture Sunday, Knott and Sorin threw a wrench into the works when their game ended in a 6-6 tie.

“To us, this is a loss,” Knott captain Matt Crosson said. “We feel like we have the talent to win every game, so this was a disappointment.”

Knott struggled throughout the game to find any semblance of an offense, posting a meager 51 yards of total offense, 23 of which came on scrambles by quarterback Justin Betz.

“We struggled with injuries recently,” Crosson said of his team’s offensive deficiencies. “We had a hard time getting people for practice this week, and we weren’t on the same page.”

Despite the offensive ineptitude, Knott managed to strike first blood thanks in large part to their defense.

Knott linebacker Kevin Smith intercepted Sorin quarterback Casey “Pistol” McGushin on the ensuing drive and returned it to the Otter 14 yard line. The Juggerknotts then pounded the ball into the end zone for the lead.

“We were definitely happy with how our defense played today,” Crosson said. “They bailed the offense out several times.”

Sorin, however, answered right back thanks to workhorse running back Mike Dewan, whose 10-yard scamper late in the second quarter knotted the game at six going into the half.

In an otherwise defensively oriented game, Dewan was the one bright spot, rushing for 137 yards on 21 carries.

In the fourth quarter, Knott looked to have gained the deciding edge when Juggerknott sophomore Adam Brainard intercepted a McGushin pass and returned it to the Otter 34. But on the very next play, Betz was picked by Sorin junior Kevin Manning, ending the Knott scoring threat.

Sorin then unleashed its best drive of the second half, as Dewan skirted the corner and blazed down the Knott sideline for a 54-yard run to the Juggernaut 5 yard line. But Knott’s defense came up with its second great defensive stand, holding Sorin to a field goal attempt that was blocked.

On the ensuing possession, Betz dropped back to pass, rolled to his right and was drilled from behind, losing the football in the process. A Sorin defender picked up the loose ball and returned it for an apparent go-ahead score. But the officials ruled that Betz’s arm was moving forward when the ball came loose, and therefore declared an incomplete pass.

Neither team was able to post a serious scoring threat for the remainder of the game.

Despite the seemingly even game, Lavorini was not about to give credit to his opponent.

“I don’t know if those guys practice or just get together and beat each other with an ugly stick,” Lavorini said. “Either way it makes me feel better knowing there’s an entire football team out there that makes me look like Brady Quinn in comparison.”

Carroll 26, St. Ed’s 0

The matchup between Carroll (2-0) and St. Ed’s (0-3) was decided by the play of Carroll quarterback Jon Sarna, who kept the Vermin undefeated against the winless Stedsmen in his first career interhall start.

Quarterback Cory Wilmont missed the game due to personal reasons, but the Vermin offense didn’t miss a beat. Sarna finished the day 8-for-14 with 146 yards and three touchdowns, two of those three going to junior Paul Tassinari.

“We played pretty well today. We were missing our starting QB but that didn’t stop us,” Tassinari said. “We played well on both sides of the ball. After a rough opening drive, our offense did whatever we wanted.”

In the first quarter, Carroll and St. Ed’s combined for only six total yards, three punts and a fumble. But in the second quarter the Vermin took over.

On the first possession of the quarter, Sarna completed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Tassinari. The second Vermin possession of the quarter was more of the same. Nine plays and 50 yards later, Sarna completed a 9-yard touchdown to Tassinari.

Following halftime, the Vermin offense began their most impressive drive of the game, a drive that consumed the entire third quarter and the beginning of the fourth. Carroll marched 45 yards on 13 plays and scored on a touchdown pass from Sarna – his third of the game – to Kyle Kownacki.

St. Ed’s failed to find any offense, generating less than 50 yards on the day. On the most promising Stedsmen possession of the game, Carroll defensive back Ryan Frost intercepted the pass and returned it 31 yards for the game’s final score.

Carroll head coach Mark Bennett was pleased with his team’s performance in the win.

“We saw this game as a must-win,” Bennett said. “Our starting QB and our starting middle linebacker were both out, but the team really came together in their absence.

“We went out and played hard, riverboat gambler mentality. However, we have to improve if we’re going to make it to the stadium,” he said.

Carroll will face Knott Sunday while St. Ed’s has a bye.

Fisher 21, Siegfried 7

Sunday’s afternoon battle between Fisher and Siegfried showcased of two of the league’s top teams that ended up being separated by their in-game mistakes.

The first of these mistakes came on the Green Wave’s first drive when Fisher quarterback Kevin Rabil was picked off by the Ramblers secondary. Siegfried capitalized on the turnover with an 18-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Max Young to senior Brandon Burke, putting the Ramblers up 7-0.

Two possessions later the Green Wave tied it up on another miscue. Siegfried was forced to punt deep in its territory after a three-and-out. The punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Fisher freshman Bill Whitaker.

On the first play of the next drive, Siegfried lost a fumble, setting up the Green Wave with good field position.

Fisher appeared to have capitalized by scoring on the ensuing drive but the touchdown was called back due to a personal foul. Unfazed, Rabil dropped back and threw a 25-yard strike to put the Green Wave up 14-7.

Fisher punted on its opening drive of the second half, but was able to recover the ball after it was muffed by the Ramblers’ punt. A five-play, 25-yard drive was capped with a five-yard touchdown run by Fisher tailback Tom Hessert, putting Fisher up by 14 and ending Siegfried’s dreams of a comeback.

Mistakes aside, the most decisive part of the game may have been the play in the trenches. Fisher captain Tom Bufalino was confident that the offensive and defensive lines would perform well, and his comments were justified by Sunday’s play.

“We played pretty well. We got down early but we came back.” he said. “The second score to take the lead was a huge momentum shift. Both lines played very well again today. It was a good victory,”

Fisher head coach Ryan Bradel agreed that the linemen were crucial to the Green Wave win.

“The key to this victory was the battle in the trenches,” Bradel said. “Our defensive line sacked Siegfried’s quarterback many times and our offensive line created huge holes for our two tailbacks to run through. They came out and hit hard but we hit them harder.”

Fisher will look to continue its winning ways against Sorin next Sunday while Siegfried will try to bounce back against Zahm.

Keenan 10, O’Neill 0

Keenan running back Alex Gonzalez broke free for an 89-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to seal the game for the Knights, who held off previously unbeaten O’Neill.

But there was little other offense outside the touchdown run.

Besides Keenan’s lone 27-yard field goal, the first half was a tough defensive struggle.

Keenan showed its defensive strength by intercepting two of Angry Mob quarterback Chris Stroh’s passes.

O’Neill returned the favor by picking off one of Knights quarterback J.J. Vega’s attempts as well as sacking the Keenan signal caller. The half ended with the 3-0 Keenan lead, and both teams looked to make some adjustments.

“They put a lot of guys in the box.” Keenan coach Richard Grant said. “We made some adjustments to counter the pressure they were bringing.”

Both teams continued to be defensively strong in the second half.

O’Neill intercepted a Vega pass, returning it 28 yards to the Keenan 49 yard line. After the Keenan defense held O’Neill to no gain on their first three plays and the Angry Mob were forced to punt. The Knights were able to open the game up on the next play with Gonzalez’s touchdown run.

Keenan then registered its third pick of the game to give the Knights back the ball, but Vega was sacked again on a fourth down conversion attempt.

Much of the same was true during the next series, this time with O’Neill picking off Vega and then failing to convert on fourth down.

O’Neill was finally able to get its offense going late in the fourth quarter with a series of swing passes to sophomores Alex Klupchak and Nate Forte for first downs. After using all of their timeouts, the Angry Mob was stopped short as the Knights defense came up with yet another big play.

The defensive line, anchored by fifth-year senior Hal Munger, sacked Stroh as time expired. Munger was a menace for the O’Neill offensive line all day as he constantly led an aggressive Keenan defense in pressuring Stroh.

“We worked hard this week to put a lot of pressure on their passing game, and our defensive backs did a nice job in the secondary,” Munger said.

Keenan will look to continue its undefeated season next week against Stanford while O’Neill will regroup with a bye week.

Morrissey 22, Dillon 6

Morrissey quarterback Joe McBrayer connected with sophomore Carl Andersen early in the first quarter for a 65-yard touchdown in a rout of winless Dillon Sunday.

After a successful extra point attempt by Morrissey kicker Dan Kaesa, the Manorites – and especially their defense – controlled the tempo for the remainder of the game.

Dillon was looking for its first win of the season, and the team seemed in prime form during its first possession. After a series of runs, including a 22-yard dash by sophomore Alex Duffy, the offense moved the ball swiftly down the field and capped the drive with a 1-yard run by quarterback Joseph Garigliano.

The extra point attempt was then blocked, and Dillon would never reach the end zone again as the Morrissey defense constantly harassed Garigliano and the Big Red offense for the rest of the afternoon.

Led by defensive end Joe Gemino, the Manorites brought immense pressure, resulting in numerous quarterback hurries and several sacks. On Dillon’s next possession, Morrissey freshman Mikey Narvaez intercepted Garigliano’s pass attempt to again kill any offensive effort Dillon could muster.

But Dillon’s defense held and forced a fourth-and-eight. After Manorite coach Ryan Burnt decided to go for it, McBrayer more than converted for Morrissey. He found an open receiver for a 26-yard touchdown strike to increase the Morrissey lead to 14-6.

Dillon then pieced together a solid drive, including a 20-yard run by Garigliano and completions to Big Red freshmen Brian Coughlin and Chris Cugliari. The Big Red were on the Morrissey 8 yard line, but the Morrissey defense stiffened and intercepted Garigliano’s pass in the end zone to end the half with the Manorites leading 14-6.

As the second half began, Morrissey’s game plan appearedto be to control the ball and run the football to eat up the clock. After recovering a Dillon fumble, Morrissey junior Nick Bencomo capped off a Manorite drive with a 3-yard burst into the end zone.

After another Garigliano pick, Manor freshman Brian Pieh’s runs gave Morrissey first and goal on the 2-yard line. But the tenacious Dillon defense denied Morrissey four times in a tough goal line stand.

The Big Red, however, promptly fumbled a pitch in the end zone, resulting in a safety that effectively ended the game.

For Morrissey captain Gemino, it was more than just a great effort.

“It’s a team game – we work hard and we are proud to play for Morrissey and look forward to continuing this success,” he said.

Dillon (0-3) will continue its quest for its first win next weekend against Alumni while Morrissey (2-0) squares off against Keough.