The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



O’Neill tames Dawgs for first win

Griffin Dassatti and Andy Ziccarelli | Tuesday, October 16, 2007

O’Neill got its first win of the season in dramatic fashion Sunday, beating Alumni 7-6.

Both teams came into the game winless – Alumni at 0-2 and O’Neill at 0-3 – but the energy on both sidelines was high.

O’Neill’s offense had trouble holding onto the ball early on. After driving 25 yards in its first eight plays, the Mob’s opening drive was cut short when Alumni junior linebacker Matt Tehrani intercepted senior quarterback Chris Stroh’s first pass attempt.

After forcing the Dawgs offense to an opening-drive three-and-out, the Mob committed its second turnover. This time, Stroh was sacked as he tried to roll out of the pocket and fumbled. The loose ball was picked up and returned for a touchdown, giving Alumni the 6-0 lead.

“Coming out quickly and getting that score was big for us,” Alumni senior defensive end Jason Nagle said. “However, we knew we couldn’t just sit back on a six-point lead.”

Stroh also sustained an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder on the play, forcing the Mob to play freshman Bobby Powers. Normally, switching quarterbacks mid-game is something to be avoided. But, as O’Neill senior captain Pat Conley explained later, this was something the Mob is used to.

“Throughout the season we’ve been able to play with both quarterbacks,” Conley said. “Our team has not been quarterback-based, and we know they can both run the offense effectively.”

After the switch, the teams traded possessions for the remainder of the first half.

But Nagle said he noticed optimism in his team at halftime.

“There was a feeling of confidence on the sideline at half; however we knew we had to keep up the intensity to come out with the win,” he said. “O’Neill is a team better than their record would show and we didn’t want to give them a chance.” 

As the second half began, Conley noticed something different from previous weeks – an attitude that could create the chance Alumni was hoping to prevent.

“The whole mood for the second half was that people were having fun,” he said. “I don’t know what it was but today there was definitely a different sense on the field. When people have fun, good things happen.”

After holding the Dawgs to two three-and-outs on their first two drives of the half, O’Neill rode to the end zone – and the lead – on the backs of Powers and senior running back Braden Turner. The two rushers combined for all 44 yards the Mob gained on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, with Powers running for 23 and Turner gaining 21.

The seven-play drive culminated in a 10-yard scamper by Powers into the end zone. The subsequent extra point put the Mob up for good.

Morrissey 20, Dillon 20

Extra points were the deciding factor in Sunday’s 20-20 tie between Dillon and Morrissey. Each team scored three touchdowns, but the outcomes of point-after attempts left neither victorious.

Morrissey attempted a two-point conversion after all three touchdowns, converting once, and Dillon attempted a traditional point-after after each of its three touchdowns, converting on twice.

Morrissey took the opening drive 65 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run by senior captain Nick Bencomo.

But Dillon answered on the next drive when sophomore quarterback Joe Garigliano connected on three of four passes on the drive for 50 yards, including a 12-yard scoring strike to sophomore wide receiver Chris Cugliari. The extra point gave the Big Red a 7-6 lead.

“It has just been a matter of time before the offense broke out like this,” Dillon captain Alex Duffy said. “Cugliari drew it up like this, and we have been practicing it. It was only a matter of time before we ran it error-free.”

But the Dillon lead was short-lived. The Manorites scored on the ensuing drive on a 31-yard halfback pass by running back Danny Deveny. Another failed two-point attempt kept the Morrissey lead at 12-7.

Going into halftime, Duffy knew his team needed to slow down the high-powered Morrissey attack.

“We definitely made some adjustments on the line and some in the secondary as well,” Duffy said.

After taking a 14-12 lead on a 5-yard run from Garigliano, the Big Red defense shut down the next Morrissey drive, forcing a fumble.

But Dillon fumbled three plays later, this time with Morrissey recovering the ball on the 1-yard line. Manorites junior quaterback Joe McBrayer sneaked it across the goal line for the score. The ensuing two-point attempt was successful, giving Morrissey a 20-14 lead with seven minutes remaining.

After marching down to the Morrissey 4-yard line, Dillon faced a critical fourth-and-one with one minute left. Duffy called a timeout to strategize with his team.

“We were deciding whether we wanted to do a quarterback sneak or hand it off to me,” Duffy said. “I said that we should give it to me. I would get it.”

Duffy did just that, plowing forward for the fourth down conversion. He scored on the next play, a 3-yard run that tied the game at 20-20.

Going for the win, Dillon attempted an extra point, but it was blocked by the Morrissey defensive line, keeping the score tied at 20-20.