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Men’s Interhall Football: All knotted up

CHRIS ALLEN, ANDREW OWENS, KATIE GABRIEL, ALLAN JOSEPH, LEX DENNIS and KAITLYN MURPHY | Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Only a couple of inches separated Alumni from its first victory of the season Sunday.

Duncan and Alumni were tied at seven when sophomore kicker Matt Libel’s 25-yard field goal bounced off the crossbar as time expired, leaving both teams with records of 0-1-1.

The unkind bounce came at the end of a game in which Alumni’s defense, led by freshman linebackers Anthony Cossell and Ryan Grojean, sophomore defensive back Barrick Bollman and senior Matt Mooney, held the Duncan running attack scoreless all game.

“Our defense played out of their minds all game,” junior captain and quarterback Pat Rushford said. “With the young guys, it’s looking good for the future.”

Alumni got on the board first after a couple of scoreless long drives. Midway through the second quarter the Dawgs put together a long drive kept alive by a third down completion from Rushford to freshman wide receiver Carlos Cortes. Grojean, a fullback on the offensive side of the ball, finished the drive with a run for a touchdown to put Alumni up 7-0.

“I thought our offense moved the ball really well,” Rushford said. “We moved it with the pass and the run.”

Alumni’s defense continued to control the game well into the second half, getting several stops including an interception by Bollman.

The Highlanders finally caught a break with nine minutes left in the game and Alumni on offense. Rushford threw a swing pass that sophomore Duncan linebacker Adam Zaabel intercepted and returned 35 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

“I knew I had the flat on that play and I really just read the quarterback’s eyes,” Zaabel said.

On Alumni’s ensuing possession the Dawgs marched down the field, converting three fourth downs on Rushford runs. After a costly holding penalty brought back a big run, the Dawgs settled for Libel’s field goal try.

The miss left both teams searching for meaning in a tie game. Rushford drew hope from the previous game’s outcome.

“Knott and Siegfried are in our division and they tied,” Rushford said. “It’s really up for grabs, and if we’re still in the running then I’m happy.”

Duncan, who appeared lucky to have come away with a tie, also was optimistic at game’s end.

“I told the guys we fought a pretty big battle for a tie,” Zaabel said. “We made a lot of mistakes but we’re happy.”

Dillon 14, Keenan 0

The Dillon defense shut out its opponent en route to a victory for the second straight week.

This week Keenan took its turn to be stifled by the Dillon defense. The Knights never threatened as they fell to 0-2 on the season with the loss.

“We know we need to win next week,” sophomore captain and quarterback Terry Mahoney said. “We need to come out with the intensity we didn’t show today. We just didn’t come out firing.”

Following a 7-3 loss last week to Keough, the Keenan offense once again failed to match the strong play of their defense.

“The defense played great,” Mahoney said. “The offense’s struggles are on me. As the quarterback I didn’t play up to the standards of this football team in the past. The loss is on me. It’s tough when guys are battling around you and the offense just can’t put points on the board.”

Keenan’s secondary, led by sophomore ball-hound P.J. McHugh, never yielded any open space to the Big Red, thus Dillon relied on its ground attack. The Big Red took control of the game when they marched down the field without ever throwing the ball in the third quarter for the first score of the day. The athleticism of freshman running back Terry Howard and junior running back Eric Herbert along with the leadership of senior quarterback Jason Miller allowed the Big Red to travel 61 yards down the field in 11 plays.

“In the first half we were running the ball well,” junior captain Jordan Smith said. “We gained 15 yards but we had a holding penalty so I thought it was just a matter of time until we scored.”

The Dillon offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game, led by senior center Mike Belotti.

“That offensive line is just great,” Smith said. “Last week they had an awesome game and this week they were even better. They created a lot of holes. [On] our scoring drive we never passed the ball, so that was pretty good. I’d like to give our center Mike Belotti a shout-out, he had a heck of a game.”

The Big Red will try to keep smothering opposing offenses when they face Stanford this coming Sunday. The Knights will try to win their first game when they face off with O’Neill.

Fisher 6, Carroll 6

Neither Fisher nor Carroll managed to convert an extra point, and both failed to pull out a win over their rival Sunday, as the game ended tied at six.

The game was sloppy on both sides of the ball, with half a dozen fumbled snaps, more incomplete passes than connected ones, and two game-altering turnovers.

Do-it-all senior Jamie Ellis set up Fisher’s touchdown with an impressive interception near the sideline in the first quarter.

Fisher’s touchdown went unanswered until the second half when sophomore linebacker Albert Toscano forced a crucial fumble leading to a scoring drive for Carroll. The turnover was immediately put to good use by Toscano’s fellow sophomore, running back Nick Tammerine. Tammerine proved himself not only as one of the fastest players in the game, but thoroughly capable of making a catch under any amount of pressure from the Fisher defense. Two decisive passing plays and one hand off later, junior quarterback Brian Vaio was able to land the ball into the arms of senior receiver Tommy Mumford for a 20-yard strike. Only needing one point for the lead, Carroll set up for an extra point attempt but a missed snap left the game tied.

Neither defense allowed either team to near the end zone for the remainder of the game, leaving the score tied.

While it wasn’t a win for either team it was also not a loss and the attitude of the coaches reflected the mediocre finish.

“We weren’t clicking on offense,” Carroll sophmore coach Patrick Shanley said. “However, our defense was as impregnable as I had predicted.”

Fisher head coach senior Pat Hogan chose not to comment on specifics of the game other than that he was upset that Miley Cyrus had not attended. He also wished to issue a warning from the Green Wave to the St. Edward’s Gentlemen, who they will be facing next week.

“Watch out St. Ed’s,” Hogan said. “We will be blitzing all day.”

Knott 7, Siegfried 7

The latest edition of the Mod Quad rivalry between Knott and Siegfried ended in a tie that left both teams feeling unsatisfied and disappointed in their performance.

Knott looked to have the upper hand early, forcing Siegfried into a four-and-out on the opening possession of the game and driving to the Siegfried six-yard-line. The drive, however, stalled and ended when freshman kicker David Pratt’s field goal attempt missed on the last play of the first quarter, seemingly giving the Ramblers the momentum.

On Siegfried’s first offensive play after the turnover, Knott took the ball right back with a fumble recovery by senior cornerback Jeff Skourp. The series of turnovers continued one step further when Knott senior quarterback Aidan Fitzgerald threw an interception to Ramblers senior linebacker Dex Cure.

After the wild sequence of consecutive turnovers, Siegfried possessed the ball in Knott territory. The Ramblers took quick advantage by virtue of a 30-yard touchdown run by senior Michael DesJardins, taking a 7-0 lead in the process. Siegfried’s defense then forced a three-and-out, giving the Ramblers possession with two minutes remaining in the first half and a chance to take complete control of the game. Though Siegfried was able to drive to the red zone, the half ended with another missed field goal attempt by freshman kicker Stephen Wandor.

Knott scored in the third quarter on an 11-yard Fitzgerald touchdown pass to junior tight end Connor Smith after a long pass to Skourp gave the Juggerknotts excellent field position.

The fourth quarter was a defensive struggle featuring multiple fourth down stops and punts in the closing minutes of the game. The teams were unhappy with their offense, but the defenses seem to be the strong suit of these teams early into the season.

“We made some good defensive plays,” Fitzgerald said. “Our defensive front played well.”

Siegfried’s defense also kept Knott’s playmakers – including Fitzgerald, Skourp, and sophomore running back Houston Clark – in check for the majority of the game.

Both sidelines were unhappy with the result, considering how much the rivalry meant to the teams. The seniors seemed especially crestfallen as they realized that they would never get another chance to fight for Mod Quad supremacy.

“I’m definitely disappointed that we didn’t get those points,” said Fitzgerald. “Tying is about as un-American as you can get.”

Sorin 20, Zahm 0

Sorin’s lock-down secondary and big-play ability overpowered Zahm’s strong running attack Sunday.

The Zahm offense got off to a quick start behind their running backs, junior Greg Bennet and senior captain Jared Carter. The two split Sorin’s defense for large gains on the opening drive, but a pivotal fourth-down stop gave the Otters the ball and the momentum.

From that point on, the game and momentum belonged to Sorin. Defensively, while the Zahm’s persistent run game was a nuisance, the secondary dominated the game. Zahm struggled to complete a pass, and the defensive line frequently got to the quarterback.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Otters were firing on all cylinders. The quarterback, senior Casey “Pistol” McGushin, led Sorin the length of the field and scored on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line with 40 seconds left in the half. After a quick turnover by Zahm’s offense, McGushin threw a long touchdown on the final play of the half. At halftime, the Otters led the Rabid Bats 13-0.

Things seemed to be looking up at the beginning of the second half for Zahm. They resumed pounding the football with the run game, and McGushin left the game after suffering a concussion. Nonetheless, Zahm still struggled throwing the ball over the superior defensive backs of Sorin and couldn’t amass more than a few first downs in the second half.

Despite the injury to their starting quarterback, the Otters continued to thrive. Junior Jon Beckerle stepped in as the leader of the offense and moved the ball well against the Rabid Bats. He threw a demoralizing touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Sorin.

“It was a play I’ve executed 30,000 times in Madden,” Beckerle said jokingly about the pass. “But seriously, it was a great play by my receiver and it was a big win for Sorin.”

The Otter’s victory boosts their record to 2-0 while Zahm moves to 0-1 on the season.

Stanford 16, Keough 0

Stanford came out swinging in their season opener, shutting out Keough in a win Sunday.

In their first offensive drive of the game, the Griffins’ first-time starting quarterback junior Tony Rizzo connected with fellow junior Dave Galiyas for a touchdown, which was followed by a two-point conversion also orchestrated by Rizzo.

“The offense did exactly what they needed to do,” senior captain Chris Gill said. “Our offensive line play was impressive.”

In the second half, it was Rizzo again with a pass to sophomore Pat Kelly, who followed with a 55-yard run to the end zone for the game’s second and final touchdown.

Although the offense was certainly impressive throughout the game, Gill highlighted the tough, consistent play of the Griffins’ defense as the main contributor to the victory.

“Our defense played great. We were missing a few guys this week and we really stepped it up,” Gill said.

He emphasized defensemen junior Josh Von Shaumburg, sophomore Griffin Naylor and freshman Eric Zeltwanger as key contributors in the shutout victory.

Gill forced multiple incompletion and recorded the only interception of the game. He returned the ball back to the Kangaroo’s 11-yard line, but the Griffins were unable to convert the turnover into points.

While Keough’s offense failed to capitalize on key opportunities, such as Stanford’s fumble on their own 33 yard-line, their defense had impressive stands throughout the game, particularly in the red zone.

“We played pretty well, it was a much closer game than the scoreboard indicated,” Kangaroo sophomore captain Ryan Cordell said.

Keough’s senior quarterback Matt Bruggeman and sophomore running back Reed Loomey both played impressive games, but were unable to string together enough successful plays on a single drive.

Cordell acknowledged this as the ultimate flaw in the loss.

“Stanford made big plays when it counted,” he said.

The Griffins’ impressive win leaves the team feeling confident about the upcoming season.

“We’re looking forward to next week,” Gill said.