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Men’s Interhall Playoffs: Headed to the House that Rock built

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Playoff games are won in the trenches, and O’Neill dug its trenches deep.

Both lines manhandled their Griffin opponents during the Mob’s 12-0 victory over Stanford on Sunday to advance to Notre Dame Stadium for the Interhall championship game Nov. 19.

O’Neill started strong, putting together an 11-play, 65-yard drive that resulted in a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Stroh to receiver Alex Fortunato.

The scoring play was set up by a 34-yard completion from Stroh to receiver Nate Forte, who caught four balls for 94 yards, giving the Mob a first-and-goal on the five-yard line. Stroh praised the offensive line for its protection in the passing game.

“Our offensive line is great,” said Stroh, who completed 12-of-16 passes for 147 yards with a touchdown and an interception. “I was confident that any play we ran, I’d have all the time in the world.”

On the ensuing Stanford possession, the Griffins encountered a third and short. They ran twice, once with fullback Rick Loesing and once with tailback Tregg Duerson, and were stuffed both times by the Mob defensive line, resulting in a turnover on downs.

Both defenses held strong until the first play of the fourth quarter, when Mob running back Braden Turner stretched the ball across the goal line for a one-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 12.

That score capped another 11-play drive that utilized short timing routes to take advantage of Stanford’s loose defensive arrangement.

“The corners were playing off the ball seven to ten yards,” Stroh said.

Turner finished with 10 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, and fullback Mike Mattingly carried 10 times for 47 yards. The offensive line created plenty of holes to allow Turner and Mattingly to wreak havoc and keep drives alive.

Stanford still had a chance to get back in the game, but a dropped pass in the flat was ruled a fumble and O’Neill recovered. The Mob turned the ball over on downs, but left Stanford no time to do anything with the ball.

“The line was opening up holes, and we were taking advantage of it,” Mattingly said.

Morrissey 27, Siegfried 10

In the second quarter Sunday, Morrissey quarterback Joe McBrayer unleashed an aerial assault on Siegfried, scoring three touchdowns to put the game out of reach in the Manor’s semifinal win.

“The score was not really indicative of how Siegfried played today,” Morrissey fullback Steve Klein said. “We’ve lost twice in the semis in the past four years, and I think that senior leadership was what put us over the top.”

Senior leadership may have been one of the contributing factors in the game, but Morrissey’s passing game was what put it out of reach. McBrayer connected on 6-of-9 passes for 117 yards in the win.

McBrayer’s first touchdown pass went to Carl Anderson, a play that capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive that successfully answered the Ramblers’ 35-yard field goal in the first quarter. After forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing series, Morrissey went right back to the passing game. McBrayer hit wide out Dan Reimer over the middle, and the receiver turned it up field for a 41-yard touchdown.

Following another Rambler three-and-out, McBrayer again led an efficient two-minute drill culminating in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Reimer just before half.

“I think it was big to air it out before halftime, because at that point we were able to put our foot on their throat,” Klein said. “We’ve definitely had a stronger passing game this year than in the past.”

McBrayer would also convert several key third-down quarterback sneaks throughout the contest, including a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter to push the score to 27-3.

Morrissey turned to its traditional power-running attack in the second half, behind the three-pronged backfield of Klein (7 carries, 36 yards), Brian Pieh (7 carries, 45 yards), and Nick Bencomo (10 carries, 65 yards).

Siegfried was able to muster a small rally late in the third quarter behind some strong running by fullback Marcus Young, who had 7 carries for 36 yards. The Ramblers quickly answered McBrayer’s touchdown dive with a quick 5-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard strike from quarterback Max Young to receiver Kevin Kelly.

Young struggled much of the day against a Morrissey line that seemed to get pressure early and often. He did, however manage to complete 7-of-13 passes for 91 yards. But a costly interception to the Manorites’ Mike Fletcher on their first second-half possession effectively snuffed out any chance of a rally.

While the Cinderella run ended for the seventh-seeded Ramblers, Morrissey will face off against O’Neill in Notre Dame Stadium Sunday, Nov. 19.

“I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like,” Klein said. “It’s amazing.”