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No. 2 Sorin upsets No. 1 Dillon to take interhall crown

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, November 15, 2010

When Sorin senior captain and running back Michael Browder was doused with ice cold water by his teammates, he could only utter three words: “I’m so cold!” But his ice-cold fingers still held onto the championship trophy after No. 2 Sorin defeated No. 1 Dillon, 7-6 in overtime in Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday.

Sorin (6-1) senior wide receiver Matt Gring caught his first pass of the year from sophomore quarterback Ted Spinelli in overtime on a third-and-goal from the 17-yard line for the only Otter touchdown of the game.

“Ted must have thought I was open,” Gring said. “But I don’t really know if I was or not.”

When the ball came down, it appeared as if the pass would be intercepted in the endzone, but Gring wrestled the ball away from a Big Red defender for the catch and the score.

“I think it bounced off my thigh pad and I was able to catch it,” Gring said.

For Spinelli, who had tears running down his face during the post-game celebration, that single play erased some of his lingering ghosts from the past.

“My last pass in high school was an interception and now to have my last pass of the season be a touchdown in the championship game, in Notre Dame Stadium, this is amazing,” Spinelli said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to play football for Notre Dame but to play and win in the Stadium is pretty special.”

Both sophomore wide receiver playmakers for Dillon and Sorin were kept relatively quiet on the day offensively. Sorin wide receiver and linebacker Ryan Robinson had only four catches while Dillon (6-1) wide receiver and defensive back Will Salvi managed only one catch.

Both, however, made their marks on defense. Salvi intercepted a Spinelli pass in the end zone and Robinson continuously disrupted the Dillon offense by batting down balls and getting to the quarterback. The Observer Editor-in-Chief and Sorin defensive lineman Matthew Gamber had seven tackles for the Otters.

After a first half that saw four total turnovers, three by Sorin and one by Dillon, the second half was just as defensively oriented.

Sorin only managed 42 total yards of offense in the second half and did not get a first down until the fourth quarter. Their only sustained drive of the second half saw three first downs two on consecutive completions to senior wide receiver Jon Beckerle but was halted inside Dillon territory. A false start penalty and a sack by Dillon freshman David Kenney derailed the drive and forced the Otters into a turnover on downs. 

After the stop on fourth down, the Big Red took over from their own 38-yard line. As Dillon moved the ball into Sorin territory, it faced a fourth and four from the Sorin 46-yard line. Dillon freshman quarterback Kevin Fink eluded the pass rush and found sophomore running back Terry Howard over the middle for a 16-yard gain. Three plays later, the Big Red lined up for a game-winning 38-yard field goal.

The potential game-winner, however, fell just short of the uprights and the contest headed to overtime with the game still tied at zero.

Dillon got the ball first to open the overtime period. On a fourth down from the two, the Big Red opted not to kick the field goal but rather go for a touchdown. Senior captain and running back Jordan Smith plunged into the end zone to give Dillon the lead. The extra point, however, sailed wide left and the lead stayed at 6-0.

After Sorin’s touchdown, sophomore kicker Connor Wathen booted the game-winning extra point, giving Soring the championship. Wathen could be seen after the game holding the game ball.

“It was a great team win today. Matt [Gring] made his first catch of the year and Connor [Wathen] won the game for us,” Browder said. “But we couldn’t have done it without [former Sorin rector] Fr. Jim. This feeling is unbelievable. We’ve been working for this moment for four years and it’s finally here. It’s incredible.”