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Season’s front-runners meet for title shot

Matt DeFranks | Thursday, November 11, 2010

A year after the bottom two seeds battled for the men’s interhall football championship, No. 1 Dillon will take on No. 2 Sorin in Notre Dame Stadium as heavyweights meet with the title on the line.

Almost mirror images of each other, both Dillon (6-0) and Sorin (5-1) won the closest games of their respective seasons last week in the semifinals. Dillon came from behind to drop two-time defending champion Siegfried while Sorin capitalized on a failed two-point conversion to triumph over Alumni.

Not only was it the closest game of the season, but also the lowest scoring output of the year for the Big Red, who turned the ball over twice in a game the first time all year.

“We’re not worried [about last game], our offense clicked,” Dillon senior captain Jordan Smith said. “We had a lot of penalties and two turnovers.”

On offense, the Big Red feature freshman quarterback Kevin Fink and sophomore wide receiver Will Salvi as part of an aerial attack that propelled Dillon all season.

“They are great players, always the first ones to practice working on routes,” Smith said. “[Fink’s] accuracy is great and [Salvi] runs the best routes I’ve seen and he gets the ball at the highest point.”

On the ground, sophomore running back Terry Howard — coming off a 122-yard performance against Siegfried — leads the charge.

“He always runs hard, the first guy can never bring him down,” Smith said. “The success on the ground is because of the great play by the offensive line. They come off the ball really well.”

While the offense averages nearly 20 points per game, the Dillon defense is also solid. Last week’s lone touchdown by Siegfried were the first points given up by the Big Red defense since Oct. 10 against Stanford.

“Our defense is underrated. We’ve given up four touchdowns all year,” Smith said.

The Big Red will have their hands full with a Sorin offense averaging over 16 points a game during their five-game winning streak.

“I’ve watched a few Sorin games and they have some playmakers on offense,” Smith said.

Senior running back and captain Michael Browder, along with junior fullback Matthew Pepe, sophomore quarterback Ted Spinelli and sophomore wide receiver Ryan Robinson, lead the Otters’ attack.

“[Robinson] has been great all year, he’s quite the player,” Browder said. “Although I think he’s slightly overhyped.”

Before being cooled off by Alumni last week, the Sorin offense had been on fire, racking up 60 points over their previous three games.

“We’re not particularly worried about our performance last game,” Browder said. “We have a game plan ready for this week.”

After managing only 25 totals yards in the second half last week, Sorin now faces a defense that has not given up more than eight points in a single game this year while holding two teams scoreless.

The Otters’ defense, having also recorded two shutouts this year, held Alumni to six points — and even that was surprising.

The Dawg touchdown was the first one scored on the Sorin defense since Sept. 26 against Fisher. The Sorin defense also features nine of their offensive starters, making their dominance even more impressive.

Electrifying offenses and stingy defenses, however, aren’t the only similarities with these two squads. Both teams struggled early, hit their strides midseason, and played in semifinal thrillers last week. Both teams have young quarterbacks with young go-to receivers. Both teams have defenses that are averaging less than five points allowed per game. Both teams will be playing in Notre Dame Stadium Sunday.

But only one will be crowned champion.

The Otters and the Big Red square off at 1 p.m.