Morrissey wins first title in eight years over Keenan
Hunter McDaniel | Sunday, November 23, 2014
In an old-school defensive struggle, Morrissey completed its perfect season by knocking off Keenan in the interhall championship game with a 3-0 victory Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The game-winning points came early in the second quarter from the foot of Morrissey (7-0) junior Ryan Lindquist, who launched a 45-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Manor the only score of the game.“We kind of know my range is around that, and I mean it’s the championship game,” Lindquist, also the quarterback for the Manor offense, said. “We figured if we could put some points up, we knew our defense could hold them, so just grab that lead and never look back.”
Forced to play under unrelenting rain, the game was a defensive struggle, and both teams combined to enter the red zone just once.
On the only scoring drive of the entire game, Morrissey drove the ball to the nine-yard line, but Keenan (5-1-1) was able to push them back to the 28 by fourth down. Unfortunately for the Knights, however, this was not enough to push Lindquist out of field goal range, and he converted on what would turn out to be the deciding factor in the championship game.
Though the game turned out to be a low-scoring affair, it was not without drama or excitement. Sophomore defensive lineman Nicholas Haydel affected the game on a number of occasions and recorded sacks on Keenan’s opening possession and late in the fourth quarter.
Keenan junior quarterback Aaron DiGenova was intercepted three times over the course of the game — by defensive backs freshman Declan Zidar, sophomore Nicholas Sywyj and senior James McEntee.
The Knights showed promise on several drives, moving the ball efficiently and attacking Morrissey’s secondary. Early in the second half, DiGenova found sophomore receiver Michael Koller on a fourth-down play to keep the drive alive, then followed that up with a completion to freshman receiver Gregory Brainard to push the ball deep into Manor territory.
The drive came to halt when Sywyj came down with his interception on a long fourth-and-15 pass play.
As the game entered the fourth quarter, Morrissey aimed to run out the clock as junior running back Hunter White touched the ball on nearly every snap down the stretch.
The Manor relied on their strong defense to keep the Knights off the scoreboard, the first time any opponent shut out Keenan all season. The strategy worked, and Morrissey celebrated their first interhall championship in eight seasons.
Keenan junior captain and middle linebacker Jon Wiese has already shifted his focus toward redemption next season.
“We have to focus a little more on our offense,” Wiese said.” I think we showed that our defense is far and away the best in the entire league. It was a game of inches today, and they won it out. I think these are two teams, if we play ten times, I think each one wins five. We’re losing some good talent in our senior class, but our freshmen are going to continue to grow. We’re getting some guys back from abroad next year, and we’re hoping we’re going to have a strong freshmen class as well. I can tell you that this team is hungrier than ever to win next year.”
Morrissey junior running back and captain Erik Rayno said the title means a great deal to his squad.
“[The championship] means a ton to all of us,” Rayno said. “I say it all the time, we’ve had the talent. It was really nice just to see it come to fruition. Everybody put it all together. You know, this team has been playing for four years, and I couldn’t think of a better way to send them off before graduation. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been an eight-year drought, so I’m really proud of everybody.”