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Dillon ties Stanford as defenses dominate

Kevin Brennan, Ken Fowler and Mike Tennant | Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It is often said that great defense wins football games. On Sunday, however, two dominant defenses battled to a tie.Neither the Dillon offense nor the Stanford offense moved the ball with any consistency, and the game ended knotted up at 0-0.Stanford had the game’s only serious scoring opportunity late in the first half. With one minute left in the second quarter and Dillon prepared to punt, the Griffins capitalized on a poor long snap and recovered the ball at the Dillon 14 yard line. A defensive pass interference in the end zone then gave Stanford first and goal from the seven. Dillon’s defense held strong, however, pushing the Griffins back five yards on the next three plays. On fourth down, Thomas Bradley broke through the line and blocked Stanford’s 29-yard field goal attempt to end the first half. “We were hoping to get a score before the half and go up 3-0 because we felt our defense would shut them out,” Stanford captain Vin Monaco said. “We thought that field goal would have been the difference and it turns out it would have been, but it just didn’t happen.”The stand was the highlight of a stellar defensive game for the Big Red. Dillon held the Griffins to a mere 69 yards of offense.”Our defense played really well, especially against the run,” Dillon captain Mike Roaldi said. “They gave up trying to run the ball.”Stanford struggled to get anything going offensively. Dillon stuffed the run, and Griffins quarterback Matt McQueary had trouble hitting his open receivers. McQueary completed only 5 of his 24 passes for 54 yards and threw two interceptions.Monaco was upset with the passing game, but he thought the Griffins’ biggest problem was their inability to run the football. “Our offensive line did a good job of pass blocking but a poor job of run blocking,” Monaco said. “I think the reason we didn’t score any touchdowns was because we couldn’t run the ball.”Stanford’s defense, on the other hand, turned in a dominant performance. The Griffins held Dillon’s traditionally potent rushing attack to 68 yards on 28 carries. Stanford also defended well against the Big Red’s rare passing game, as linebacker Chris Bechtel and free safety Brandon Erickson both recorded interceptions.Roaldi was disappointed in his team’s offensive output, but he feels a lack of game experience may have had a lot to do with it. Unlike Stanford, Dillon did not play a game in the first week of the season.”Not seeing that whole game speed makes a huge difference,” Roaldi said. “I think we were a much better team on offense in the second half.”The Big Red had -2 rushing yards in the first half, but the team gained a much more respectable 70 yards on the ground in the second half.Roaldi believes the offense will continue to improve.”Any team that has as good a defense as we do can be in and win any game with any team,” Roaldi said. “We just need to make a few offensive adjustments. We definitely feel like we can still win the championship.”O’Neill 7, Keough 6Braden Turner kept his eyes on Keough’s quarterback all game, even on a normal fourth-and-five towards the end of the fourth quarter.”I saw [the quarterback] roll straight right for the first time,” he said, “and I knew he wasn’t going to pass it. He had taken three-step drops on all his passes.” Turner turned that observation into a 68-yard, momentum-shifting punt return. Keough attempted to fake an offensive play and punt the ball on what turned out to be a not-so-normal fourth down. But Turner’s touchdown with 3:15 remaining lifted a scoreless O’Neill team over Keough for the victory.Keough dominated the first half but put only six points on the board when quarterback and captain Brian Kusper threw a six-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.Kusper finished the game 15-of-25 for 120 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but the Kangaroos did not score the rest of the game.O’Neill, on the other hand, scored no points in the first half without throwing the ball. In the second half, the Angry Mob changed the game plan, throwing six passes in its first ten plays.Both offenses then stalled on three straight drives, but on its fourth drive, Keough started moving downfield. On fourth down at the O’Neill 38-yard line, the Kangaroos came to the line of scrimmage in formation to run an offensive play and punted.But when Kusper rolled right and kicked a short punt downfield, Turner was ready, and he made the Kangaroos realize their worst nightmares by running the punt back the distance.After O’Neill converted on the extra-point, the Kangaroos quickly moved the ball downfield. Kusper converted a 26-yard pass with 58 seconds left to the O’Neill four-yard line after a ball deflected off intended receiver Chaz Arnold and into the hands of wide receiver Lawrence Dawson. But O’Neill blocked a low 21-yard field attempt.Turner’s heroics turned out to be the difference, but he had ample compliments for his teammates on the defensive line.”If they don’t get in there and block that kick, my return means nothing,” he said. “They won the game just as much as the return did.”Keenan 18, Morrissey 7It was not pretty, but the Keenan Knights are not complaining after defeating Morrissey.Despite fumbling the ball four times – including three on its first four possessions – the Knight’s offense managed to put up three scores, which was more than enough for the victory.”We played the way we had to [in order] to beat them,” captain Pat Downey said. “We were firing on all cylinders.”Quarterback Eric Laumann led the Knights offense, completing 5-of-7 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball in for another score in the fourth quarter.Morrissey drew first blood, capitalizing on a Keenan fumble that left the Morrissey offense with first and goal just inside the Keenan 10-yard line. “We came out strong in the first half and forced some turnovers, but Keenan was able to recover,” Morrissey captain Aaron Ronsheim said. But Keenan fired right back and took the lead for good on the first drive of the second half with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Laumann to Reed Langton.