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Men’s Interhall: Sorin, Dillon return to championship for rematch

Scott Frano and Andrew Cardoza | Monday, November 14, 2011

No. 3 Sorin 3, No. 7 Alumni 2

Spectators might feel a sense of déjà vu at the men’s interhall football championship Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium. Sorin junior kicker Connor Wathen’s late field goal, the Otters’ only scoring play of the semifinal event, sent the Otters on their way to a championship repeat appearance.

Wathen’s late 38-yard field goal gave the No. 3-seed Sorin a victory over No. 7 Alumni to set up a rematch of last year’s final with No. 5 Dillon. Sorin (5-0-1) won last year’s championship 7-6 in overtime.

The first possession for Alumni (3-3) ended in controversy. The Dawgs drove to the Sorin five-yard line. Alumni went for the first down on 4th-and-2, but were ruled short. The referees had trouble measuring with the chains and appeared to lose their place more than once. Alumni sophomore receiver Jeff Kraemer was not pleased with the referees’ confusing process.

“They brought the chains out and went to measure it,” Kraemer said. “I don’t know if the ref lost his spot on the chains or if the guys holding them moved. They came back to the sidelines, set it up in a different spot, re-measured and we didn’t get it. That messed up the game, I think.”

Sorin moved the ball to get some breathing room but was backed up in its end after a penalty for a low block. Following the penalty, a botched pitch by junior captain and quarterback Ted Spinelli led to a safety and a 2-0 Alumni lead going into halftime.

The score was still 2-0 entering the fourth quarter when Alumni was forced to punt into a strong wind from its own 14-yard line, leading Sorin to start its possession at Alumni’s 27-yard line.

Controversy erupted again when Spinelli went for a quarterback sneak and the ball appeared to pop out. Alumni senior safety Barrick Bollman thought his team had recovered the fumble.

“To us, it looked like we had the ball,” Bollman said. “It was a tie — one Sorin guy and one Alumni guy had their arms around the ball. The refs gave it to them.”

The Dawgs forced an Otter fourth down and Sorin decided to try for the field goal. Wathen’s kick was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but the wind pushed the ball over the crossbar for a 3-2 Otter lead.

“I just wanted to get it through,” Wathen said. “It was ugly, but as long as it gets through, that’s all that counts.”

Alumni stormed back down the field with little time remaining, converting a 4th-and-19 from the Sorin 47-yard line as freshman quarterback Tyler Barron found Kraemer for a 27-yard gain. But a 24-yard field goal attempt into the wind from senior kicker Matt

Labriola went wide left, and Sorin celebrated earning another trip to Notre Dame Stadium. Sorin junior receiver Ryan Robinson said he is looking forward to another showdown with Dillon.

“I’m excited for the rematch,” Robinson said. “Last year we played them to a close game and Dillon has a great squad this year.”

No. 3 Sorin will meet No. 5 Dillon at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium for the men’s interhall championship in a rematch of last year’s title game.

 

Contact Scott Frano at sfrano@nd.edu.

 

 

No. 5 Dillon 7, No. 1 Siegfried 6

Junior running back Terry Howard looked nearly unstoppable as he helped lead the No. 5-seed Dillon to an upset over top-seeded Siegfried, advancing his team to the championship game for the second straight year.

Howard led the Big Red (5-1) with 147 rushing yards on 22 carries, including a five-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to give Dillon the lead. On Dillon’s final drive to seal the game, Howard converted three pivotal first downs to help the Big Red advance to their second straight championship appearance. Howard credits his strong offensive line for his success.

“Our biggest factor was the offensive line,” Howard said. “They made my job so much easier by opening the field for me and allowing me to find the open field.”

The Big Red know they will have to polish up a few of the mistakes they made on the field, but are jubilant and ready for a second shot at a championship after losing in overtime last year, junior offensive lineman Bob Burkett said.

“Our guys just played with heart, and we wanted it more,” Burkett said. “This game was unbelievable. We fought adversity and when it mattered, we were able to execute and move the ball down the field.”

Reflecting on last year’s season, Burkett said he never thought that he would have an opportunity to reclaim the championship after a tough loss.

“We have a great opportunity in front of us,” Burkett said. “I never thought I would have a shot at playing at Notre Dame Stadium twice in my life. We need to focus real hard in practice this week, clean up the mistakes and be ready for a physical game come next Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Siegfried (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season, thanks largely to a blocked extra point in the first quarter. The Ramblers also had two costly turnovers that ended possible scoring drives when they were on Dillon’s end of the field. Siegfried had a season-low 128 yards of total offense.

Though the season did not end how they would have liked, Rambler coach PJ Zimmer took a lot away from the team’s showing this year.

“I told them as long as they did not leave anything on the field — regardless of what the final score is — they have nothing to hang their heads down on,” Zimmer said. “We had a great season. We accomplished almost all our goals, and I look forward to a great new season next year. This will be something that will inspire us for the future and help us build a strong nuclei.”

The Big Red look to claim a shot at redemption against Sorin in Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in their second straight championship appearance.

 

 

Contact Andrew Cardoza at acardoza@nd.edu.