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The hunt is on

By DOUG FARMER, CHRIS MICHALSKI, SHANE STEINBERG, CHRIS MASOUD, and RYAN O'CONNELL | Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sorin 7, Carroll 0

Sorin continued its quest for an undefeated season by taking down Carroll on Sunday.

The lone score of the game came on the second play of the second half. Sorin sophomore quarterback Jon Beckerle found senior receiver Conor Douglass on the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.

“It was a play-action that the corner just bit on,” Douglass said.

Beckerle said that his team tried to take advantage of Carroll’s aggressive defense with the call.

“We had set [the play-action] up all game,” he said.

Carroll (1-2-1) opened the game with a strong seven-play drive to get within the Sorin 5-yard line. On the eighth play of the drive sophomore running back Kris Kast fumbled when reached for the goal line and the Sorin defense recovered.

Nonetheless, the Vermin were optimistic after the opening drive.

“We had a script down, looked at the script,” Carroll sophomore quarterback Nick Ruof said. “And since the script worked so well, we said, ‘Let’s do it again.'”

That plan was quickly forgotten on Carroll’s first drive of the second half. Scrambling for a few extra yards, Ruof was tackled and sprained his ankle, causing him to miss the rest of the game.

As a result, the shorthanded Vermin needed to reconsider any offensive strategies. Carroll initially only had 20 players dress in uniform, six of which played both offense and defense this week. Ruof’s injury curtailed much of the team’s optimism.

Kast, who started the first game for Carroll this season at quarterback, took over. Despite his experience and best efforts, the Sorin defense had little trouble stifling any Vermin attacks the rest of the game.

This loss eliminated the Vermin from the playoffs, ending their season.

When play resumes after fall break, Sorin will conclude its season against St. Edward’s, who is also 3-0. Last fall, St. Ed’s defeated the Otters, but this season the game has more meaning, as the two teams are tied for first place in the Gold League.

Alumni 7, Knott 6

It is possibly the most overlooked play in football – the extra point. For Alumni and Knott, though, it proved to be the deciding factor in the Dawgs’ 7-6 win

Throughout the first three quarters, the game was a defensive struggle, and neither offense managed to enter the opponent’s red zone.

Knott (1-2) finally strung together the first successful drive, going 66 yards and ending with a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. A holding penalty on their initial two-point conversion attempt forced them re-try from further out. Their second attempt, a fade to the right corner, was unsuccessful, but Knott was still ahead 6-0 and Alumni (2-2) had yet to show any signs of offensive life.

However, Dawgs coach Rod Santos had a plan for their next drive.

“We knew we could run the ball,” Santos said. “We wanted to draw them in then hit them with a big pass over the top.”

The Dawgs executed Santos’ scheme to perfection, as freshman running back Barrick Bollman ran for a number of short gains before quarterback Pat Rushford connected with freshman wide receiver Sean O’Brien for a 26-yard gain. The Dawgs finished the drive with a fourth down pass, again to O’Brien, for the score.

With only six seconds left, the game came down to the leg of Dan Buckley. Unfazed, Buckley nailed the kick and gave his team the one-point victory.

After the game, Santos was thrilled with the win and his team’s performance.

“It was a dogfight,” he said. “We had our backs against the wall and we knew it was a must-win situation. The guys came out to fight.”

With this win, Alumni kept itself in the playoff hunt. Knott, on the other hand, found itself all but eliminated from postseason contention.

Juggerknott captain Aidan Fitzgerald said his team played pretty well overall, but he attributed the dismal offensive production to the fact that they weren’t prepared for Alumni’s defensive scheme.

St. Edward’s 14, Zahm 12

It was close, but St. Edward’s secured a playoff spot Sunday, defeating Zahm 14-12.

“It was a game of big plays,” St. Ed’s head coach Cameron Hogue said. “It all came down to [Zahm’s] extra points.”

On the first drive, St. Ed’s quarterback Matt Abeling, completed a 55-yard pass for a score, giving St. Ed’s an early lead which they kept for the rest of the game.

Zahm (0-2-1) answered with a successful offensive series of its own, but in a much different way. The Rabin Bats’ offensive strategy was built on acquiring rushing yards and throwing short passes. A series of first downs brought the Rabid Rats down the field, and a short pitch to senior running back Theo Ossei-Anto was good for a score, but a failed extra-point attempt kept the St. Ed’s lead at 7-6.

“The offensive line played incredibly,” Ossei-Anto said. “They were playing tired and hurt, but they really dug in and gave it everything they had in a very physical game.”

Just before the end of the first half, St. Ed’s took over on offense and Abeling launched a sixty-five yard pass to senior and ginger adonis Ryan Farrell, giving St. Ed’s a more comfortable lead at 14-6.

“It really gave us momentum going into the second half,” St. Ed’s junior captain Andy Nester said.

Midway through the third quarter, a Zahm interception swung the momentum in favor of the Rabid Bats. On their next play on offense, fullback Jarred Carter took the handoff and ran it in for a touchdown. Zahm couldn’t covert the two-point conversion, though, and left the score at 14-12.

“[Carter] wants the ball every play,” Ossei-Anto said. “He never goes down on a first hit.”

A final chance for Zahm to take the lead was shut down, as a St. Ed’s defender deflected a pass with 35 seconds left in the game, giving the ball back to St. Ed’s and handing them their third victory of the season.

Next, Zahm takes on Fisher and St. Ed’s concludes their in-season play against Sorin, another 3-0 team in hopes of defending a perfect record.

Siegfried 14, Morrissey 0

Siegfried entered Sunday’s game against Morrissey (2-1) determined to hold its own against the Manorites high-powered offense. The Ramblers did more than that, shutting out Morrissey.

Running back Marcus Young’s 5-yard touchdown run in the first half put Siegfried (3-0) up 6-0, and a successful 2-point conversion pushed the lead to 8-0, where it would remain for the rest of the half.

The Ramblers lead quickly widened to 14-0 when running back Dex Cure raced for a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage of the second half.

While they did give up a few long passes, Siegfried’s defense was mostly successful in stopping Morrissey’s passing game from hurting the Ramblers like it has other teams so far this season.

“We tried to keep their receivers in front of us in the secondary,” Siegfried captain Kevin Kelly said. “We made the necessary adjustments and dropped guys back in coverage when we needed to, and it worked well.”

Siegfried ran a well-balanced offense and its consistent first-down running game opened the door for the passing game. They were both helped by some crucial Morrissey penalties and helped themselves by converting on key third and fourth down situations.

Yesterday’s win against the previously unbeaten Manorites not only extended Siegfried’s record to a still-unscathed 3-0, but also earned them a spot in the playoffs.

“It means a lot to be back there, but we have to remain focused as a team and we can’t take our next game lightly,” Kelly said. “The last thing we want to do is go into the playoffs slouching.”

Dillon 2, Keough 0

Keough’s playoff hopes came to an abrupt end as the Big Red of Dillon defeated the Roos 2-0 in their final game of the regular season.

Still searching for its first victory of the year, Keough (0-2-1) began the first half with plenty of fire.

After allowing Dillon (3-1-0) to march down the field on its first drive, the Roo defense came up big, forcing a fumble deep in Keough territory. Senior captain Nazur Ahmed recovered the ball at the 2-yard line.

But bad field position proved to be costly, as the Dillon defensive line plugged the holes and forced a safety on Keough’s third play of the drive.

“Our defense has been the backbone of the team all season,” Dillon captain Chris Cugliari said. “They’ve scored more points than our offense.”

Led by defensive end Jordan Smith, the Big Red recorded four sacks and dominated the game in the trenches. Smith, who had two sacks himself, created havoc in the backfield and left the Keough offensive line with their hands tied.

“Jordan’s intensity represents the attitude of our team,” Dillon assistant coach Ryan O’Connor said. “He’s pretty much a monster.”

Nevertheless, the Keough offense had multiple scoring chances in the second half.

Quarterback Matt Bruggeman found a rhythm in the Roos’ first drive of the half, displaying great pocket presence and finding receivers John Mayer and Chris Kaczynski for short yardage. But the Dillon defense stepped up again as cornerback Joey Leary snagged his first of two interceptions at the Dillon 6-yard line, ending the drive.

“We moved the ball into their territory,” Keough captain Kevin Laughlin said. “We just couldn’t score in the red zone.”

The Dillon offense was also limited by the stingy Keough defense. The Roos surrendered no points for the second time this season in spite of the hard-nosed running of Dillon running back Eric Herbert and quarterback Joe Garigliano.

Stanford 15, O’Neill 14

In a hard-fought game at Riehle field, Stanford came back in the closing minutes to beat O’Neill by just one point, 15-14.

Stanford quarterback Brian Salvi found an open receiver in the end zone with only a few minutes left on the clock to bring his team within a point of the lead. The gutsy Griffins opted to go for the win with a two-point conversion instead of ending in a tie. The gamble paid off and put the team in good position for the postseason.

“Overall, I thought it was a good game and O’Neill is a great team,” Burke said. “[The game] could’ve gone either way.”

To start the game, Stanford (2-1) received the ball, but was unable to score as itsoffense stalled.

On O’Neill’s (1-2) next possession, the Angry Mob scored a touchdown, but was unable to convert the two-point conversion.

The Griffins rallied, though, and scored a touchdown as the half expired. They converted the extra point, and went into the break up 7-6.

O’Neill, however, answered quickly at the start of the second half by scoring to go up 14-7 on a drive led by the play of running back Tom Friel.

“Tom played really well today,” O’Neill captain Matt Bono said. “He had several great runs to keep a few of our drives alive”.

The remainder of the game was controlled by the defenses, as several defenders on both teams made stops to halt their opponents’ drives.

“Defensively, we started off slow,” Stanford captain John Burke said. “But they came through later in the game when they needed to.

“Linebacker Billy Parker had an amazing game for us and had several incredible open-field tackles for us. Also, linebacker Josh Von Schuamburg had a really big stop on a third down on one of O’Neill’s last drives to keep them from scoring”.

As the end of the game neared, Stanford quarterback Brian Salvi threw a pass into the end zone and hit his wide receiver for a touchdown. With the score now 14-13, Stanford had a decision to make – either take an extra-point to tie or go for two to win. The Griffins decided to go for two, and the gutsy call paid off as Stanford took the lead 15-14. O’Neill had one last shot to win the game on their final possession, but there wasn’t enough time to score.

“We showed a lot of character today. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the loss but we have to move on,” Bono said. “We’re looking forward to our next game after fall break against Keough”.

With a win against rival Keough, O’Neill may be able to sneak into the playoffs, which start two weeks after break.