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Men’s Interhall Playoffs: Siegfried shuts out Zahm

Peter Reisenaur, Griffin Dassatti, Laura Myers and Meghan McMahon | Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Siegfried’s march to Notre Dame Stadium continued, but Zahm’s ended after a 6-0 Ramblers win Sunday at Riehle Field.

Undefeated Siegfried beat Zahm in a rematch of a regular-season game that ended in a tie. The difference this time? The Ramblers defense stopped Zahm’s high-powered rushing offense cold.

Siegfried coach Patrick O’Brien was proud of his team’s toughness but said there were many errors that he could rectify.

“We made mistakes all over the field today. We were very fortunate to win against such a good team,” O’Brien said. “We were just a little tougher than Zahm today.”

Neither team broke through in the first half despite decent chances to score. Siegfried executed a well-designed flea flicker that would have led to a touchdown had the ball not been dropped, while Zahm’s best chance came on the first drive after Siegfried muffed a punt.

However, the Ramblers scored on their opening drive of the second half behind a powerful running game of their own. They were led by junior running back Marcus Young, who picked up a majority of the team’s yards in the drive. Freshman quarterback Mike Garcia managed the game well on the drive and picked up 12 yards on a quarterback keeper.

Zahm had two more chances to score, but converted neither. The Rabid Bats went three-and-out on the first attempt, and Ramblers junior Kevin Kelly forced a fumble on Zahm’s last attempt. Siegfried picked up just enough to run out the rest of the clock.

The Ramblers must continue to work hard if they want to reach the finals, O’Brien said.

“We hope to be a competitive team, and we can do that by putting some more things together,” O’Brien said. “We would not have beaten Keenan or Morrissey with that effort.”

Siegfried will face Keenan in the semifinals.

Keenan 21, Morrissey 14 (OT)

Despite early mistakes, Keenan’s powerful running attack propelled the Knights to a 21-14 overtime victory over defending champion Morrissey.

After forcing the Manor to punt on its first drive, Keenan fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, giving Morrissey the ball back on the 21-yard line. On the next play, Manor junior quarterback Joe McBrayer hit junior receiver Carl Andersen for a touchdown, giving Morrissey a 6-0 lead.

On its next drive, Keenan responded by marching 65 yards down field in eight plays, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Joe Pappas. Pappas and junior running back Alex Gonzalez accounted for 141 of the team’s 205 yards and all three touchdowns.

Sophomore Keenan captain Pat Burns said this run-dominated offense was a focal point for the Knights leading up to the game.

“It’s definitely something we’ve been focusing on in practice,” Burns said. “We got away from [the running game] against Stanford and we just thought we should get back to [it]. We have a great running back and we figured we should just give him the ball a lot and he’ll just do what he can.”

After halting the Manor’s ensuing drive with an interception early in the second quarter, the Knights turned the ball over again, this time on the second play of their drive. Again, Morrissey capitalized by scoring a touchdown on a three-yard run by senior captain Nick Bencomo. A successful two-point conversion gave Morrissey a 14-7 lead going into the half.

Still, Bencomo said, the mood on the sideline was tense.

“We knew Keenan was a good team, and we were going to have to keep our intensity up,” he said.

Keenan’s sideline, on the other hand, had an air of confidence.

“There was [some disappointment],” Burns said, “but we all knew it was something that could be corrected. The only reason we weren’t ahead was [our own mistakes]. There was nothing we were doing wrong in playing the game other than penalties and fumbles. As long as we took those out of the game we thought we had it won. It was just a matter of executing.”

Sure enough, the Knights opened the second half with another 65-yard scoring drive, resulting in a touchdown for Gonzalez and a 14-14 tie.

After two of Morrissey’s second-half drives were halted by fumbles in Keenan territory, the game went into overtime.

Morrissey won the toss and deferred to Keenan. But again, Burns said, the Knights were nothing but confident.

“We definitely thought we had the upper hand [going into overtime],” Burns said. “We knew our offense was going to score. We felt pretty confident, it was just a matter of stopping whatever they threw at us when we were on defense.”

Gonzalez scampered for an eight-yard touchdown on the second play of the extra period, giving the Knights a 21-14 lead. Three McBrayer incompletions stymied Morrissey’s chance to tie.

After the game, Bencomo expressed disappointment in not being able to defend the Manor’s title.

“It would’ve been nice to win it again,” he said. “We’ve been there and we know what it’s like to win it. We knew if we got past this tough matchup we’d have a shot at it. It’s disappointing it you can’t win every year. We’re just glad we had a shot to make a run for the title again.”

Fisher 14, St. Edward’s 7

Kevin Rabil celebrated more than his birthday on Sunday.

The now-22-year-old senior quarterback completed 13-of-22 passes for 220 yards to lead Fisher to a 14-7 victory over St. Edward’s in the first round of the playoffs.

“We have a lot of faith in Kevin,” Green Wave coach John Donovan said. “We’ll definitely keep putting the ball in the air.”

St. Ed’s controlled the ball early. It took freshman quarterback Matt Abeling 15 plays and 16 minutes to score on a touchdown pass to junior receiver Ryan Farrell.

But Fisher wasted no time in answering, tying the score 7-7 with a 30-yard pass to senior receiver Pat Gotebeski.

From there, the game became one of costly penalties and the Stedsmen’s inability to capitalize on opportunities. On the first play of their ensuing possession, Abeling threw a 65-yard scoring pass to freshman Sean Reed, but the touchdown was taken off the board by a holding call. With continuing pressure from Green Wave junior linebacker Patrick Hessert, St. Ed’s was unable to get a first down.

The second half began with an illegal block called on Fisher, and it quickly became third-and-13 for the Green Wave. The Stedsmen could not stop the Green Wave, however, as Rabil connected with Gotebeski for 33 yards. Gotebeski scored on a six-yard touchdown pass five plays later to put Fisher up for good.

“Today’s game was a really good one,” Donovan said. “It’s the most fun I’ve had all season. …

“This is the first time in the playoffs since any of us have been at Notre Dame, so this is really huge for us. This win was just a stepping stone to the Stadium.”

Fisher will take on Stanford this weekend.

Stanford 6, Dillon 3 (OT)

In what was guaranteed to be the last play of the game after Dillon made a field goal in the beginning of overtime, Stanford junior safety Dave Costanzo stepped in at quarterback. He dropped back to pass, scrambled to avoid the sack, and finally found freshman tight end Tom Smith at the goal line for the Stanford touchdown.

That score, the Griffins first of the game, ended Dillon’s season and gave Stanford a 6-3 victory.

“We’ve played Stanford three times in the past two years, and have come out on the bottom each time,” sophomore receiver Chris Cugliari said. “The game always comes down to the last minute.”

Not that any of the Stedsmen knew how this one would end. Even the players were confused about the rules of overtime.

Similar to college football, each team gets a chance to score. The ball is placed on the 10-yard line, and teams can either go for a touchdown or attempt a field goal.

The Dillon offense took the field first. The Big Red failed to put the ball in the end zone but set up an easy field goal for sophomore kicker Rick Beuke, putting it ahead 3-0. Stanford then got its opportunity to score.

After three fruitless downs, the Griffins had fourth-and-goal at the 10. They decided to go for the touchdown, rather than playing it safe with a field goal.

“I really have to hand it to our coaches,” Smith said. “They had faith that we could go for it and not play for a tie.”

Dillon’s best drive of the game came late in the second quarter. Sophomore running back Josh Stull rushed for 32 yards, and both Cugliari and sophomore receiver Brian Coughlin caught passes, giving Dillon a first down on the 15-yard line. The drive was halted, however, when Stanford sophomore Chris Gill intercepted a Joe Garigliano pass.

The fourth quarter saw more turnovers, the most important coming on a punt by Stanford. The ball hit a Dillon player in the helmet and was recovered by Costanzo.

“Dillon is a really good team. The only difference is that we made one more play than them,” Stanford senior captain Rob Huth said. “If they had been any other seed, I would have no doubt that they’d be playing next week.”