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Men’s Interhall: Dillon, Sorin to meet in Stadium

Sam Gans and Matt DeFranks | Tuesday, November 9, 2010

There will be a new champion this year, as No. 1 Dillon took down the defending champion No. 5 Siegfried 12-7 in Sunday’s semifinals with strong performances from all three areas of the game.

Sophomore running back Terry Howard took a run between the tackles for a 43-yard touchdown to put Dillon (6-0) on top of Siegfried (4-2) by the final margin with four minutes remaining.

“Our offensive line moved everybody,” Dillon senior captain Jordan Smith said. “He didn’t get touched on an iso play, which is incredible.”

It was just one run of many on a fantastic day for Howard, who racked up 122 yards on 15 carries.

“I felt like I played a good game,” Howard said. “Our line was just opening up holes the whole time.”

While the offense was effective, the Dillon defense was the unit that set the tone. The Big Red forced the Ramblers to go three-and-out six times.

“Today wasn’t going to be the day we let up,” senior defensive lineman Jack Winnike said. “Today wasn’t going to be the day that we made mistakes.”

In fact, two mistakes nearly cost the Big Red dearly. Up 6-0 after two field goals, Dillon gave up the lead after two big Siegfried plays. Rambler senior quarterback Matt Meinert kept the ball on an option and went 44 yards. Three plays later, he found junior receiver Frank Conway for a 32-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The extra point gave the Ramblers a 7-6 lead.

Things continued to appear grim for Dillon as precious minutes ticked off the clock. But when Dillon sophomore Dan Balcarcel blocked a punt, the Big Red regained life, scoring on the next play.

“It gave us good field position,” Balcarcel said. “It really brought the momentum back to our side and got the crowd back.”

It was a disappointing finish for the two-time defending champion Ramblers, who wanted to make it to Notre Dame Stadium for a third straight year.

“I don’t feel as though we came out at our best,” Siegfried senior captain Michael McDonnell said. “I wish things were different, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

Despite not reaching its ultimate goal, Siegfried was not totally disappointed after starting the year flat.

“Considering where we started the season, I’m pretty darn happy with where we ended,” McDonnell said.

With the championship now on hand, Howard said Dillon plans to take confidence and effort into the Stadium.

“We’re always confident in what we can do,” Howard said. “We’re always going to fight 100 percent.”

Dillon will battle Sorin in the Stadium Sunday for the top prize.

 

Sorin 7, Alumni 6

Buoyed by a bend-but-don’t-break defense, No. 2 Sorin managed to stay afloat and advance to the men’s championship game in Notre Dame Stadium by beating No. 3 Alumni.

On their first offensive drive of the game, the Otters (5-1) drove 85 yards in 10 plays, culminating with a 21-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ted Spinelli to sophomore wide receiver Ryan Robinson, who finished the day with four catches for 69 yards.

“[Robinson’s] been playing awesome all year,” Sorin senior running back and captain Michael Browder said. “I’d be scared of him. He’s been scoring left and right.”

After amassing 122 yards in the first half, Sorin’s potent offense ran only eight plays in the second half for a mere 25 total yards. Both of their second-half possessions ended in punts.

For Alumni (4-2), however, the second half was much better than the first. Starting from their own 28-yard line, the Dawgs ran the ball 12 times for 72 yards, highlighted by runs of 15 and 31 yards by junior running back and captain Dan Dansdill. Dansdill punched it in from one yard out to pull Alumni within one point at 7-6. He had a game-high 97 yards on 16 carries.

Instead of trying for the extra point, the Dawgs instead opted to go for a two-point conversion. After a hard snap gained Alumni a yard and a half by drawing Sorin offside, Dansdill’s plunge up the gut was stopped short of the goalline.

“We switched kickers and we figured if we could get them offside, we’d go for it,” Dansdill said. “[We] got them offside and they just made a good play.”

The Dawgs never sniffed the end zone again.

On the game’s final drive, Alumni — needing only a field goal to win — got down to the Sorin 31-yard line after successfully drawing the Otters offside again on a key fourth-and-five play. Penalties, however, killed the drive and Sorin recovered an Alumni fumble at midfield.

Alumni was penalized three times for 47 yards, all at costly points in the game.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Dansdill said. “Congratulations to Sorin, it was a fun game.”

While the Dawgs’ season comes to a close, Sorin will take on undefeated Dillon for the title next week in Notre Dame Stadium.

“[The championship game] will be my last game playing football. I’ve dreamed about playing in the Stadium since I was five years old,” Browder said. “It’s awesome that I’ll get to end my career in the Stadium.”