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Men’s Interhall: Three games without winners in final weekend

CHRISTINA MCDONNELL, SHANE STEINBURG, KYLE SMITH, LIZA NAVARRO, CHRISTOPHER MASOUD and BOBBY GRAHA | Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Two unbeaten teams remained without a loss Sunday when St. Edward’s and Sorin played to a scoreless tie.

The Otters (3-0-1) established dominance quickly when their defense forced a turnover within the opening minutes to give them possession early.

However, the Gentleman (3-0-1) matched this offensive prowess with a potent defense that consistently halted promising drives.

“Our defense played well,” St. Edwards’ coach Cameron Hogue said. “Even though we did not force turnovers, we can’t complain with the shutout.”

The game came down to a battle of the defenses. Specifically, Sorin’s tight coverage broke up the passing game and it forced several three-and-outs from a usually explosive St. Edwards’ offense. The Gentleman attack, led by quarterback Matt Abeling, managed less than 50 yards of offense on the day.

“Offensively, we did not execute at all,” Hogue said.

This offensive ineptness may be attributed to the fall break that broke up the momentum of their season.

“It’s hard coming off fall break,” St. Edward’s sophomore Daniel Quinlan said. “We just need more practice time to get people used to each other again.”

Freshman St. Edwards’ linebacker Jay Mathes said the offense wasn’t connecting.

“We just have to play throw and catch and really establish the ground game for next week,” Mathes said.

Despite not scoring, Sorin coach Tony Bellino said his team played well on the offensive side of the ball.

“Our offense was very strong today,” he said. “We’re going to try to take all the positives we can out of this tie.”

The Sorin offense maintained possession and had the ball for most of the game, including a drive that took up the entirety of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, a key sack by Sorin defensive lineman Matt Gamber gave the Otters the ball back with 32 seconds left and a chance to win the game. Sorin, though, decided to play for the tie and simply let the clock run out.

Some players on Sorin suggested that their lack of scoring was intentional.

“We didn’t want to show anything before the playoffs,” Otter freshman Bobby Sullivan said.

St. Ed’s also has thoughts of postseason success.

“We can be a contender,” Quinlan said. “We will make a run for this.”

St. Ed’s earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and will face Keenan next week, while the tie dropped Sorin all the way to fourth. They will face Morrissey next week.

Zahm 8, Fisher 0

Although only eight points separated Zahm and Fisher in the Rabid Bats season-ending win Sunday, the game couldn’t have been more lopsided.

Armed with an arsenal of ineffective trick plays and a collective amnesia about the rules of organized football, Fisher (0-4) finished the game with more penalty yards than offensive yards.

Zahm (1-2-1) began the game with a quarter-long drive only to get stopped in its tracks at the one-yard line by Fisher’s blitz-happy defense that blitzed as many as eight players on a given play. After taking over possession at their own 3-yard line, Fisher ran a trick play in which the snap was supposed to go through the quarterback’s legs and directly to the fullback.

The play did not go as planned, though, hitting off of the quarterback’s leg and costing the team two yards, leaving the offense on its own goal line. The Green Wave proceeded to run the exact same play again, resulting in a safety.

Despite playing like a bad section football team in the first half, Fisher came out of halftime trailing only 2-0.

Sticking to their game plan, the Green Wave ran such plays as the “Mahondoff”, a designed run for offensive lineman Dan Mahon, and the “Gerow for it”, a play that saw a Fisher tackle become eligible as a receiver, both of which resulted in penalties. Soon enough, Fisher found itself facing a 3rd and 50.

Zahm stuck to its running game and finally broke a long run in the second half, putting the Rabid Bats deep in the red zone. They finished off their drive with a short run up the middle, making the score 8-0.

Late in the fourth quarter, Fisher crossed midfield for the first time and almost scored, only to be stopped by Zahm’s defense.

With Zahm taking over to run out the clock, apparently unbeknownst to his team, Zahm’s quarterback tried to take a knee and complete a long pass. After an earful from the coaches, the Rabid Bats ran out the clock and walked away with a win.

With its offense picking up penalties and racking up yardage losses, the Green Wave could only shake their heads and laugh off their shutout loss on Sunday.

“This was the ugliest football game I’ve ever been a part of going all the way back to fifth grade peewee football,” Mahon said.

Siegfried 24, Duncan 0 – Kyle Smith (ksmith31@nd.edu)

Siegfried cruised to a comfortable 24-0 victory over Duncan this Sunday, preserving its unbeaten record and proving it will be one of the teams to beat in the playoffs.

Carried by the potent duo of halfback Marcus Young and fullback Dex Cure, the Ramblers (4-0) out-muscled a Highlander (0-4) defense that was helpless to stop the run.

On its first possession, Siegfried found the end zone as Young took a pitch 30 yards for the score. The Ramblers’ two-point conversion was successful and they took an 8-0 lead.

While Siegfried jumped out to a fast start, the Highlanders struggled to ignite their offense. The Rambler defense consistently caused confusion and pressure, and Duncan had no response, going three-and-out on its first two possessions.

“It was a tough game,” Duncan captain Garrett Burke said. “Our defense had a tough time handling their strong run game and our offense was too inconsistent.”

On Siegfried’s second drive, Young scored again, capping off a 74-yard drive with a touchdown from two yards out for a 15-0 lead.

As the half drew to a close, Duncan threatened for the first time when wide receiver Mike Kearney caught a 34-yard pass to move into Siegfried territory. But the Ramblers forced a fumble on the following play, and Cure recovered the ball to snuff out the drive.

The Ramblers debuted a direct-snap shotgun offense to start the second half that proved effective. But for the first time, Siegfried couldn’t break through the Highlander’s defense, and had to settle for a 30-yard field goal, which Gary Burke converted, and the Rambler’s led 18-0.

Siegfried’s defense kept Duncan in check the entire second half, and backup quarterback Zach Maxwell closed out the game in the final minute with a 19-yard scoring pass to Charles Drury.

Although the Ramblers finished the regular season unbeaten, Kelly knows the playoffs are a fresh start for everyone, and an unbeaten season is meaningless unless they make it to the championship game.

“It is important to stay focused and keep reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is the Stadium,” he said.

Stanford 6, Keenan 6

The Battle for the Chapel resulted in a, with the evenly matched Stanford and Keenan squads ending up with only a touchdown apiece.

The tie allows both teams to advance to the playoffs, Stanford as the No. 6 seed, and Keenan as the No. 7 seed.

Stanford started off the game with possession, but was forced to punt after some great coverage from the Keenan secondary. After the punt return, the Knights were also stopped and neither team was able to finish out a drive.

However, with 58 seconds on the clock, Stanford regained the ball and moved down to the 10-yard line. Quarterback Brian Salvi pitched the ball to David Costanzo, who then completed a pass to tight end Tommy Smith. With six seconds to go, Salvi connected with Costanzo for the touchdown. The kick was blocked by Keenan defensemen Pat Kelly, and the score at halftime read 6-0 in favor of the Griffins.

Costanzo was a standout on both sides of the ball, with numerous receptions and a punt return that he ran back for what would have been a touchdown, if not for a holding call on the Griffins.

“Costanzo is our best athlete, it is nice to have him on the team and he can play everywhere, we put him on offense today to switch things up and surprise the defense,” Salvi said.

In the beginning of the third quarter, the Keenan offense came back strong, moving the ball down to the 10-yard line with a run by senior running back Alex Gonzalez. Freshman quarterback Terry Mahoney had a pass to put a touchdown on the board for the Knights. The kick was blocked, and the score remained tied at the end of the third.

With 52 seconds to go, Mahoney passed to Jim Zenker, and the Knights remained at first down and goal. However, in spite of three attempts to run the ball into the end zone, Keenan was stopped by an aggressive Stanford defense.

“This game was about defense, Keenan had three plays on the goal line and our defense stopped them,” Salvi said.

O’Neill 0, Keough 0

Keough blocked a field goal with less than a minute left in the game ensured a shutout as Keough and O’Neill battled to a scoreless tie on Sunday. Exceptional team defense from both rivals was the story of the game, as neither offense could find the end zone.

Keough (0-2-2), which began the year with a scoreless tie against Keenan, finishes the season without a victory. Nevertheless, senior captain Nazur Ahmed said he is far from disappointed with his team’s season.

“I’m proud of the way our guys played all season, especially today,” Ahmed said. “This team is laying the foundations for success in the future.”

Although Keough struggled once again to establish a rhythm on offense, the Roos were poised to score late in the first half.

Tailback Reed Looney ran the ball well on the ground, finding holes and breaking tackles. Quarterback Matt Bruggeman found receiver Kevin Laughlin for a 25-yard pass down to the O’Neill eight, but a controversial offensive pass interference call effectively ended the Keough drive.

As a result, the Roos finished the first half without completing a pass or obtaining a first down.

The Mob defense created havoc in the Keough backfield all day, amassing four sacks. Pressure from the defensive line forced Keough interceptions to defensive backs Tom Freel and Brendan Mulharen.

“Our defense played strong all game,” O’Neill captain Matt Bono said. “We had a great sense of camaraderie this year.”

O’Neill (1-2-1) started strong on offense as running back Tom Freel powered through the holes, breaking multiple tackles and gaining good yardage. But after starting quarterback Bobby Powers was injured on the third play of the game, the Roo defense took advantage of an inexperienced backup quarterback.

Freshman linebacker Alex Boll and defensive back Chris Kosinski intercepted passes on consecutive drives, while senior linemen Faustin Weber recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter.

But the Roo defense had its most important stop with 40 seconds left in the game. Rushing all 11 players, Keough blocked an O’Neill kick that would have sealed a victory.

“It’s a rivalry, but I still have much respect for O’Neill,” Ahmed said.

Morrissey 21, Knott 6

Early in the week, Morrissey captain Joe McBrayer said this week’s matchup against Knott would come down to who worked harder in practice. After a 21-6 win against the Juggerknotts on Sunday afternoon, it’s clear all the hard work was worthwhile.

“We were able to run what we wanted to run,” McBrayer said.

With the win, Morrissey (3-1) will be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and will play No. 4 seed Alumni this Sunday. After a last second loss to Alumni earlier in the season, McBrayer expressed the importance of the momentum Morrissey will carry with them after the big win over Knott.

“We’re glad to end our regular season on a high note and go into the playoffs with all the momentum”, McBrayer said. “But the playoffs won’t change our game plan, we’re looking to go out there and do what we’ve done all year long.”

On the opposite sideline, the Juggerknotts (1-3) are headed for the offseason.

“Not too much went well,” Knott captain Aidan Fitzgerald said. “We made some plays, it was just that we couldn’t string them together.”

The game, a microcosm of Knott’s season, was characterized by a lot of abrupt changes.

“Our defense was in a strange alignment for most of the game,” Fitzgerald said “We also had trouble finding a consistent offense. We’ve been forced to do a lot of on the spot changes and that obviously isn’t conducive to a winning record.”

Fitzgerald did see reason for optimism though. A relatively young team this year, the Juggerknotts will have a lot of returning talent next year and they are confident that they can build off of a disappointing season and make a run for the playoffs in