Men’s Interhall Football: Survive and advance
CHRIS ALLEN, ANDREW OWENS, BARRICK BOLLMAN and MEGAN FINNERAN | Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Stanford’s quest to regain the title that was theirs in 2007 came to an abrupt end Sunday.
St. Edward’s upset the top-seeded Griffins on a last-second touchdown catch by senior wide receiver Joe DeMott to give the Gentlemen an 18-16 win.
St. Edward’s junior coach Fritz Schoenhut downplayed the importance of the seeds in this matchup of what appeared to be evenly matched clubs.
“We worked hard in practice all week and the guys were ready to play,” Schoenhut said. “Numbers are just numbers at this point and you still have to go out on the field and play the games.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Gentlemen (3-2) got on the board with a phenomenal 100-yard punt return by junior wide receiver Sean Reed. Reed drew a taunting penalty as he ran untouched into the end zone, which resulted in a blocked extra point but St. Edward’s went up 6-0.
Stanford (4-1) responded at the end of the half after a critical fumble recovery led to a halfback pass hauled in by sophomore wide receiver Pat Kelly, and after junior quarterback Tony Rizzo converted a two-point conversion Stanford went into the half leading 8-6.
St Edward’s started the second half quickly, riding the legs of freshman running back Rob Dillard and the talented receiving corps led by Reed into the end zone.
“We utilized our running game and our great receiving game to beat the top seed today,” Schoenhut said. “In my opinion, the best three receivers in all of Interhall line up for St. Edward’s Hall.”
With the score 12-8 after another missed extra point, the Gentlemen defense went to work, forcing Stanford into a number of punts and missed opportunities, though Stanford returned the favor and recording two interceptions of its own.
“It was really our powerhouse defense and their ability to mix up the game that got us this win,” Schoenhut said.
Stanford appeared to be on their way to victory after Rizzo led the Griffins on a critical fourth quarter drive and another two point conversion put them up 16-12 with minutes left in the game. But the upset-minded Gentlemen used big runs by Dillard to get down to the goal line with 30 seconds left in the game, setting up DeMott’s touchdown reception.
The victorious and energized St. Edward’s team will now face Morrissey, with the winner one game away from the championship in the Stadium.
Knott 21, Carroll 0
Led by an aerial assault that included three touchdown strikes from senior quarterback Aidan Fitzgerald, Knott (4-0-1) moved to the second round of the playoffs with a 21-0 win over Carroll (2-1-2).
Fitzgerald found senior Jeff Skorup in the end zone twice and junior Connor Smith as well.
“We’ve been working hard all year and things just came together,” Fitzgerald said. “An early turnover put us down but we stayed with it and ran good routes.”
The second touchdown strike came late in the second quarter. The Juggerknotts had the ball at the Vermin 30-yard line on fourth-and-15. Fitzgerald threw a bullet to Skorup in the back of the end zone and the wide receiver made a highlight reel grab to put the Juggerknotts up by two scores.
“I just managed to get open,” Skorup said. “The second play was a short pass and he got it right to me. It was fourth and long and he made a perfect pass and I managed to get open in the corner of the end zone.”
The defense shut out the Vermin and allowed the Juggerknotts to control the pace of the game as Carroll was unable to sustain any long drives.
“The defense was great,” Fitzgerald said. “It was the second shutout in a row. They got pushed down the field a couple times but they got timely turnovers.”
As Knott prepares for the second round of the playoffs, they don’t anticipate any changes to their style of play.
“We’re going to do the same thing we’ve been doing,” Skorup said. “We’re going to work hard in practice and we’re not done until we get to Notre Dame Stadium.”
The season ends for the Vermin, but it was one of their best in recent years and is a reason for Carroll to expect big things from next year’s team.
“We made too many mistakes, and you just can’t win that way,” junior captain Nick Ruof said. “It’s a tough loss but we had a great season. We won more games than last year, so it was a positive.”
Freshman Keith Marrero made the play of the game for the Vermin with a first-quarter interception.
“The defense shifted over and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Marrero said.
The freshman contributes on both sides of the ball and is sure to be a crucial player in future seasons for the Vermin.
Knott will play Siegfried Sunday at Riehle Field as the journey to Notre Dame Stadium continues.
Morrissey 15, Dillon 14
After struggling through the first three quarters of play, resilient and opportunistic Morrissey (4-1) came back in epic fashion to earn a 15-14 victory over Dillon (3-2).
Down by a touchdown with time running out, Morrisey senior quarterback Danny Deveny completed a 40-yard bomb into Big Red territory. On the next play, Deveny scrambled to the 10-yard line, setting up his touchdown pass with a 1:45 remaining. Rather than kick the field goal, the Manorites chose to go for the win.
“We had momentum going our way and figured we should finish then and hope our defense gets the stop,” Deveny said. “We chose to live like lions and not lambs.”
Morrissey made the right decision, converting with a well-thrown slant route. However, the Big Red didn’t go down easy. Senior quarterback Jason Miller led Dillon’s two-minute drill, reaching the Morrissey 15-yard line. Unfortunately for the Big Red, an offensive pass interference call pushed the ball back to the 31-yard line with less than 10 seconds remaining. The Big Red’s 48-yard field goal attempt had the distance, but went wide left.
“When you play as bad as we did the first three quarters, I guess it was only a matter of time before we put it all together,” Deveny said.
Prior to the final five minutes, Dillon controlled the game offensively and defensively. The Big Red defense was their usual stingy self, limiting the Morrissey offense to mostly three-and-out possessions. Special teams were also a key factor as freshman David Murray blocked a punt, which was returned for a touchdown.
The Manor defense had a difficult time stopping the Dillon option attack, led by Miller, freshman running back Terry Howard and sophomore fullback Eric Herbert.
Dillon moved the ball with ease, but shot themselves in the foot with key turnovers. Miller fumbled on a quarterback keeper just short of the touchdown. In the second half, Herbert lost the ball on the Dillon two-yard line, giving Morrissey an easy touchdown to stay in the game.
“We outplayed them up and down the field,” Miller said. “Turnovers were killers and we had a couple calls that didn’t go our way. We felt like we had the better group of guys and the better athletes, but it didn’t really work out.”
With the victory, Morrissey advanced and will play St. Edward’s Sunday.
Siegfried 10, Sorin 6
After an undefeated regular season, Sorin’s winning streak finally came to an end.
Siegfried (3-1-1) stepped up, not only beating the Otters (3-1-1), but also becoming the first team to score a single point against the Sorin defense in the 10-6 victory.
The Siegfried offense shone through early in the game with a string of first downs on its first possession, ending with a touchdown when freshman David Whitmore broke through the defense for a run into the end zone. The extra point gave the Ramblers a 7-0 lead, putting Sorin behind for the first time this year.
“It’s about time we all came together,” Siegfried coach P.J. Zimmer said.
A long throw from Sorin senior quarterback Casey McGushin to freshman receiver Ryan Robinson gave the Otters a huge swing of momentum and plenty of hope to score some points. A touchdown by junior Jon Beckerle put Sorin on the board, but the blocked kick for the extra point gave Siegfried an adrenaline rush that would last the entire game.
A Siegfried fumble recovered by Sorin sophomore Matt Pepe again gave the Otters a chance for offensive movement, but the Siegfried defense showed its strength and forced a punt.
Sorin’s first possession of the second half quickly ended with an interception by Siegfried sophomore Will Gesicki.
“I just wanted to do everything I could today, especially defensively stopping them, to pull out a win,” Gesicki said.
On fourth down with only a few yards to go, the Ramblers decided to risk it, coming out powerfully and moving in toward field goal range. A successful field goal by freshman Steve Wandor settled the score at 10-6, where it remained until the end of the game.
Another interception by Gesicki gave the Ramblers the ball, allowing them to take a knee and end the game.
“It was a lot of fun. Everyone was pretty excited because these are the playoffs, and it’s like it’s a whole new season. That’s a pretty nice way to end the game,” Gesicki said.
Siegfried will take on Knott in the semifinals of the men’s bracket Sunday.