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M Interhall: Alumni, Keough take final step into stadium

Alex Carson | Thursday, November 21, 2013

Players on both No. 2 Alumni and No. 4 Keough have learned over the last few years what it feels like to fall just short of the men’s interhall championship game. However, after Sunday, these teams will finally know what it feels like to play for the title at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Dawgs (6-0) used a strong second-half performance last week against No. 3 Carroll to come back from a 9-0 halftime deficit and win 13-9. A goal-line stand to end the first half kept Alumni in the game and allowed sophomore quarterback Trevor Hurley and senior captain and receiver Jeffrey Kraemer to turn the game around and connect for a pair of touchdown passes.
“We came together as a team last week and our team camaraderie really brought us back in the second half,” Hurley said.
In addition to the team spirit, Kraemer said Alumni owes its arrival at the championship game to playing true to its brand of football.
“We played Dawg football to get here,” Kraemer said. “Dawg football is physical. We finally got the run game going and set the tone at the line of scrimmage.”
Advancing to the championship game has special significance for Alumni’s senior class, which suffered defeat in both the 2010 and 2011 semifinals by a single point.
“For our class in particular, this was the goal from day one,” Kraemer said. “Having been a point away twice, it means a lot.”
Of Alumni’s five touchdowns in the playoffs, Kraemer has been responsible for four of them, recording three receiving touchdowns from Hurley and returning one interception for a touchdown.
“[Kraemer] really tells me what to do and makes it easy [to manage the game],” Hurley said. “I just come to the line and see what’s available.”
The Kangaroos (5-1), who lost in last year’s semifinals by two points, advanced to the championship game behind a balanced offensive attack. Their first round victory came via three touchdown passes from senior captain and quarterback Seamus Donegan, while their semifinal victory saw two rushing touchdowns from freshman running back Conor Kinasz.
“[Our balanced attack] makes it harder for teams to play us as they can’t just say, ‘Let’s take away this guy,'” Donegan said. “This is the best team I’ve been on at Notre Dame in terms of playing together.”
In their 16-13 semifinal victory over No. 1 Keenan, the Kangaroos avenged a loss from earlier in the season, though Donegan said his team approached the semifinal round with the same focus it will strive for heading into the championship game.
“[Last week’s game] was just another game for us and this week we’re focusing on executing and making sure we’re prepared to do what we do,” Donegan said.
In addition to Kinasz’s two rushing touchdowns, sophomore receiver and defensive back Mitchell Patin recorded an interception and a safety to aid Keough’s victory.
“Playing in Notre Dame Stadium and the championship game was our goal all year,” Patin said. “To play there is something we all dream of and to be playing on the same field Division I players do is pretty awesome.”
Alumni and Keough will battle for the crown and the fulfillment of a season-long goal Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the Notre Dame Stadium.
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