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Men’s Interhall: Knights hold off Otters’ comeback attempt

By Samantha Zuba | Monday, November 19, 2012

No. 2 Keenan closed the book on its undefeated season and won the Men’s Interhall football championship with a 20-18 victory over No. 1 Sorin on Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Knights (6-0-1) handed the Otters (6-1) a heartbreaking loss that came down to two-point conversions. Each team scored three touchdowns, but Keenan stopped all three of Sorin’s conversion attempts to hang on for the win.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Keenan senior quarterback Andrew McDonough said. “For the seniors, it’s our last game in pads. And to get to play that game in Notre Dame Stadium, to end with a win and be undefeated is amazing. It’s hard to find words.”

The Knights shut out the Otters in the first half and held a commanding 20-0 lead early in the third quarter. Sorin woke up on its first possession of the third period, however, and proceeded to score 18 unanswered points. The Otters’ first scoring drive was executed in three crisp plays.

Sorin senior quarterback Ted Spinelli moved the ball down the field with a 31-yard pass and another 21-yard pass that set up the touchdown. Spinelli then tossed the ball to senior running back Ryan Robinson for the score that started the momentum shift.

Sorin continued to be aggressive and Spinelli threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Jake Yurek to cut the deficit to 20-12. The touchdown came after Sorin sophomore Andrew Kuhn intercepted a Keenan pass. The interception sparked considerable energy on the Sorin sidelines and the field.

Late in the fourth quarter Spinelli threw another touchdown, this one a 38-yard toss to Yurek. After adjusting their run-oriented offense to Keenan’s defense, the Otters seemed to have everything going in their favor.

“We came out with the run, but then we knew they were going to stack the box,” Spinelli said. “It opened up some vertical possibilities, and we figured we had nothing to lose since we were down 20 points. So why not throw it down the field?”

The adjustment worked and the third touchdown brought the Otters within two points of Keenan. Sorin lined up for the two-point conversion, but the Knights’ defense smothered the run inches from the goal line and effectively ended the game.

“It’s hard to have the game come down to two-point conversions like that,” Spinelli said. “But Sorin football is about having fun. It’s about minimizing the opponents’ big plays, and we didn’t do that in the first half, and the extra points mattered.”

Keenan certainly made the big plays, especially in the first half. McDonough threw a six-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Alex Green on the Knights’ first possession. Senior receiver Trevor Yerrick later ran for a second first-half touchdown.

Keenan looked like it was going to dominate the second half as well when it opened the third quarter with a quick drive that ended with a 39-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver John Garry.

On the next possession, Sorin started to turn the game around, but Keenan managed to pull through, something McDonough said the Knights had done all season.

“The key was a team effort,” McDonough said. “We battled through adversity all year, and young guys had to step up. We need all 25 of our guys. You take away one, and we don’t make it to the Stadium, we don’t win this game.”

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu