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Men’s Interhall: Blocked extra point sends Stanford past Dillon

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Often times, what a team fails to do can define its season. On Sunday, Dillon failed to make an extra point, and lost to Stanford 7-6 in the first round of the playoffs.

The Stanford offense had a total of five possessions in the game, four of which ended in punts. Only the second drive garnered points, culminating in a 20-yard touchdown connection from senior quarterback Brian Salvi to receiver Tony Rizzo.

“Everyone stayed focused and made the plays they needed to in order for us to win,” senior captain John Burke said. “Tony Rizzo really stepped up in fighting for the last few yards in the score.”

In the first half, Stanford junior defensive back Chris Gill had both an interception and a fumble recovery deep within Stanford’s own territory. This defensive strength compensated for Stanford’s inconsistent offense.

When the second half began, a mixture of rain and hail was pelting the field horizontally.

Dillon junior quarterback Joe Garigliano seemed to relish the conditions. With their starting running back out for the game, the Big Red put the ball in Garigliano’s hands.

“After turning the ball over twice in the first half inside Stanford territory, we needed to keep our drives simple and methodical,” junior captain Chris Cugliari said.

Garigliano rushed for over 55 yards on the opening drive of the second half, and scored on a three-yard run up the middle. Then, as the 11th man of the field goal unit barely got onto the field before the snap, Stanford’s Josh VanSchaumburg blocked Joey Leary’s kick.

“The most disappointing part of the game today was my failure to call the timeout on the PAT,” Cugliari said. “But give credit to Stanford, they made one more play than we did.”

After knocking Dillon out of the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season, Stanford will face rival Keenan next week for a berth in the Stadium.

Morrissey 7, Sorin 0

Battling through rain, hail, and snow, Morrissey outlasted Sorin 7-0 on the frozen Riehle Field to advance to the semifinals.

Inclement weather and exceptional defense prevented either team from breaking out offensively.

Sorin, whose undefeated season ended on Sunday, came out with intensity as they began the first half with a 16-play drive that took up the entire first quarter.

Junior running back Rob Gallic led the Otters down the field as he darted through the holes up the middle and eluded multiple tackles. Sorin balanced the attack with effective running along the perimeters and quick passes.

However, the drive culminated in an interception to Morrissey cornerback John Soltis, who picked the ball off at the Morrissey 12-yard line.

“We really punched them in the mouth on offense in the first half,” Gallic said. “We just couldn’t convert points deep in their territory.”

The Morrissey defense played outstanding in the second half, forcing two turnovers and limiting Sorin’s scoring chances. Great pressure from the defensive line led to an interception by Carl Anderson and a fumble recovered by Mike Fletcher.

“Our defense has been our strong point all year,” senior captain Joe McBrayer said. “They can take control of a game when we need them to.”

Sorin’s defense, which had previously allowed only one touchdown all season, was nearly as stifling. The Otters forced a fumble, which was recovered by defensive lineman Matt Gamber, and cornerback Jeremy Bruck, known to his teammates as “All-I-Do-Is-Make-Plays,” intercepted a pass late in the game.

But Sorin had difficulty stopping a multifaceted Morrissey running game that broke tackles left and right. Led by McBrayer at quarterback and running back David Ulery, the Manorites accumulated nearly 100 yards of rushing.

Two plays after converting on a key fourth down situation, Morrissey took a 6-point lead early in the second half when Ulery powered the ball up the middle. The PAT made the score 7-0.

“The cold weather made us change our game plan,” McBrayer said. “We had to rely on our power running game, which worked out great.”

Morrissey will have a chance to redeem itself next week against Siegfried, who handed the Manorites their only loss of the season. Although Sorin goes home empty-handed, the Otters are still optimistic.

“This has been one of our best seasons in a long time,” Sorin coach Matt Young said. “I guarantee this team had the most fun all year.”

Keenan 26, St. Edward’s 0

On paper, St. Edwards was unbeaten heading into the playoffs and Keenan snuck in as a seventh seed, but when it came down to on-field performance, Keenan was vastly superior.

Keenan running back Alex Gonzalez scored three touchdowns and quarterback Terry Mahoney threw for another score as the Knights stunned second-seeded St. Edwards 26-0. Gonzalez scored on the Knights opening possession on a one-yard run to put Keenan up 7-0. Then, with a minute and a half left in the first half, Mahoney connected on a short touchdown pass to put the Knights ahead 13-0.

After the Knights intercepted St. Ed’s quarterback Matt Abeling on the first possession of the second half, Alex Gonzalez put on a show, rushing 45 yards for a Knight touchdown. But Gonzalez’s day wasn’t finished. On the next Knight possession, Gonzalez rushed for a 50-yard touchdown, sealing the game for the Knights.

“He’s unbelievable,” Mahoney said. “That’s all I can say.”

The Gentlemen couldn’t get their passing game clicking in the first half, going three and out three times.

“Keenan’s a good team.” St. Ed’s captain Andy Nester said. “They were the best team we’ve played so far.”

The only offense the Gentlemen were able to muster was a 60-yard pass from Abeling to receiver Derry Herlihy, who was tackled at the 6-yard line. The Gentlemmen were unable to convert the big play into points, though, and turned the ball over on downs.

Although St. Ed’s didn’t end the season they way they expected, Nester still has hope for next year.

“We lose only three seniors and should have about twenty guys returning.” Nester said. “I expect us to get better.”

Keenan moves on to play Stanford in the semifinals next weekend in a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Siegfried 20, Alumni 0

Despite frigid temperatures and constant snow flurries, the Siegfried Ramblers rolled to a 20-point victory over the underdog Alumni Dawgs.

Without star running back Marcus Young for three quarters, Siegfried took advantage of two very costly Alumni mistakes early on which allowed them to not only utilize more conservative play calling, but more importantly, put the game into the hands of a defensive unit that still has not allowed a touchdown this season.

To say the game did not begin well for Alumni would be an understatement. On their first offensive series of the game, quarterback Pat Rushford was flushed from the pocket and threw an errant pass right into the outstretched arms of Rambler captain Kevin Kelly who took the interception 50 yards for the touchdown

On Siegfried’s next possession, in what must have looked like déjà vu to the Dawgs, Kelly received a perfect strike from quarterback Max Young on a corner route and scampered 80 more yards along the same sideline – making the game 13-0 by the end of the first quarter.

However, despite the rough start, Alumni refused to quit and played Siegfried to a standstill for most of the contest. Led by running back Barrick Bollman, who ran extremely hard all game, and wide receiver Sean O’Brien, who had numerous tough catches, Alumni moved the chains frequently. Unfortunately, when a big play was needed, the Ramblers tightened the clamps, either by a turnover or big hit.

“Offensively, I thought it was our best showing all year,” Alumni coach Rodegar Santos said. “We ran the ball really well and we executed pass plays pretty well. On the other hand, we had a few mental lapses on both sides of the ball at times and it cost us the game.”

Down 13, and with their backs against the wall, the floodgates finally opened against the Dawgs in the fourth quarter when Siegfried running back Marcus Young finally entered the game. Not wasting any time, Young drove the Ramblers down to the Alumni 1-yard line where fullback Dex Cure finished off the drive, plunging across the goal line to give the Ramblers a 20 point lead.

“Overall, it was a tough game with bad weather conditions and a good opponent,” Ramblers coach P.J. Zimmer said. “Alumni played very well and had a great season. We stuck to fundamentals and the basics and just tried to execute to the best of our ability on both sides of the ball. Next week, we play Morissey, a team that poses a huge challenge for us. We played them in the regular season and it was a very tough game; they are a very good team.”