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



Interhall Football: Week 1: Domination

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sorin 14, Fisher 0

Sorin rode two big pass plays to a 14-0 victory over Fisher in a game that saw both teams struggle to build strong drives.

Fisher looked poised to score the first touchdown of the game in the beginning of the second quarter, driving to the Sorin 20 yard line. However, a tipped ball thrown by junior quarterback Grant Erickson was intercepted by senior defensive back Rob Gallic, giving Sorin their first and only takeaway of the game.

Sorin turned the interception

into points two plays later when freshman quarterback Ted Spinelli hit senior wide receiver

Jeremy Bruck on an 80-yard

touchdown pass.

“We’ve got a couple young studs on this team. We’re lucky they let the old guys play,” Bruck said. “The quarterback put the ball right where it needed to be.”

Fisher appeared to have answered on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to senior wide receiver Pat McHugh on the following drive. However, the play was called back due to offensive pass interference after McHugh made contact with the defending Bruck, a call that drew the ire of Fisher’s sideline.

“I was definitely interfered with,” Bruck said. “If there’s a flag on the field, there’s a foul on the play. He ran me over.”

Fisher’s drive stalled after the penalty as the workmanlike Ryan Robinson and lightning-quick Matt Gamber combined to sack Erickson to put Fisher out of field goal range.

As time ran down in the first half, Spinelli marched Sorin down the field, turning several broken pass plays into long scrambles, a skill he used throughout the game.

“I did a lot of running in high school,” Spinelli said. “I have a thumb injury which affects my passing, so I took that into account. We were lucky on a couple big plays.”

One of those big plays came at the end of the drive, as Spinelli hit the freshman Robinson on a 50-yard touchdown pass to put Sorin up 14-0.

“I looked off the safety and threw it up,” Spinelli said. “[Robinson] is a big guy and I knew he would make a play.”

Sorin closed out the victory with a strong defensive effort in the second half. The Otters employed a “bend but don’t break” mentality, giving up a few first downs but preventing big plays. This enabled them to control the whole second half en route to the victory despite the noted absences of highlight-reel playmakers Jon Beckerle (family wedding) and Bobby Sullivan (personal reasons).

“We know that in this league, big plays win the game,” Spinelli said. “We let up some little ones but in the end we were fine.”

Knott 7, Duncan 0

Knott senior quarterback Aidan Fitzgerald’s first-half touchdown pass to fellow senior Jeff Skorup produced the only points of the game in Knott’s 7-0 win over Duncan.

The two defenses dominated the game, with both teams forcing multiple turnovers on downs. Knott’s high-pressure defense, led by senior Joe Raupp and his several big hits, made things hard on the Highlanders and starting freshman quarterback Chris Palmquist all game long.

“Our defense really picked us up today,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s great to start out with a shutout.”

Both offenses struggled to move ball for the majority of the game. Knott held a sizeable edge in total yards by the end of the game, but only converted on one of three scoring chances.

“We executed pretty well at times, but we had a couple miscues,” said Fitzgerald.

The miscues, a fourth quarter fumble on the goal line and a missed 35-yard field goal a quarter earlier, kept Duncan within striking distance.

After the fumble on the goal line, Duncan was left with one last possession to try and tie the game. The drive held promise as it began with an athletic 20-yard catch over the middle by sophomore receiver Adam Zaabel. A 10-yard sack of Palmquist two plays later forced a fourth-and-long, killing any momentum Duncan had gained, and thus essentially sealing the outcome.

“Throughout the day we were scattered on play making,” said Zaabel.

Duncan was also foiled several times by costly mistakes. The Highlanders fumbled three times throughout the day, twice in their own territory. Though Knott never directly scored following the turnovers, they clearly played a role in the battle of field position.

None were more costly than a swing pass by Palmquist that flew behind his receiver and the line of scrimmage. The ball rolled back seven yards, until it was recovered by the Juggernauts at the Highlander 25-yard line.

“It felt like we were trying to find a rhythm all day on offense,” said Zaabel.

The Highlanders, coming off a disappointing inaugural year, were able to take some positives from the game.

“Palmquist showed good composure in his first game as a freshman,” said sophomore captain Paul Scheel.

“It wasn’t a bad game,” said Zaabel. “Our defense definitely made some plays and we stuck with them.”

Keough 7, Keenan 3

Keough started its season in terrific form with a 7-3 victory over Keenan in both teams’ season opener on Sunday.

Senior Matthew Bruggeman persevered at quarterback for the Kangaroos, completing a pass to senior wide receiver Kevin Nosek for the only touchdown of the game. Sophomore running back Reed Looney ran for many key gains on the scoring drive.

Trailing 7-3 in the third quarter, sophomore PJ McHugh kept Keenan’s hopes alive with a clutch interception. The Knights’ offense tried one last time to score on the Keough defense as freshman quarterback Trevor Yerrick led Keenan to some short gains.

Ultimately, it was the Kangaroos’ defensive line that overwhelmed the Keenan offense. The Knights’ only points came on a field goal by junior kicker Pablo Martinez.

“[Freshman] Robert ‘Paint Can’ Toole was a force at defensive end,” sophomore co-captain Sean Mullen said.

Toole finished the game with several sacks for the Kangaroos, including one which effectively ended Keenan’s final drive.

“The defensive secondary also came in big late in the game,” Mullen said.

The defenses held both teams scoreless in the second half.

“I was frustrated with our performance,” Keenan sophomore captain Terry Mahoney said. “We couldn’t push [the ball] inside the five.”

Mahoney remains optimistic that the Keenan squad will recover from this game and make a run for the playoffs.

“We won’t make the same mistakes next week against Dillon,” he said.

Keough will try to carry their momentum from Sunday’s win into next week’s game against Stanford while Keenan faces Dillon.

Morrissey 22, Alumni 0

While Morrissey’s defense shut out Alumni, its offense cruised to three touchdowns in a 22-0 victory.

Morrissey’s defense not only held Alumni to one first down the entire game, but also outscored the Dawgs by forcing a safety in the first half.

“Bend not break: that’s our motto,” said Morrissey senior John Saulitis. “We were happy with our performance.”

“I think the team played pretty well. It was kind of sloppy, but we did well considering it was our first game,” senior quarterback Dan Deveny said.

In the first half, Morrissey completely shut down the Alumni offense, keeping them from obtaining any first downs all half. Both Morrissey’s passing and running game looked strong, with Deveny running and throwing the ball successfully.

Near the end of the first half, Morrissey moved the ball down the field and scored their second touchdown with two minutes left in the half with a run by Deveny.

The second half began with Alumni in possession, but after a sack and two incomplete passes, the Dawgs were forced to punt. An interception gave Alumni the ball back, but a bad snap quickly returned possession to Morrissey.

After failing to convert to a first down and punting, Alumni regained possession. With less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Morrissey senior Phillip Yuhas intercepted the ball and returned it to the seven-yard line.

Deveny soon ran the ball into the end zone for Morrissey’s third and final touchdown.

“By the end of the game we were pretty tired, but we hung in there and secured a nice win,” Yuhas said. “Our defensive secondary was especially tough today, suffocating their passing attack.”

With their first game under their belts, the Dawgs now look to improve for their next challenge.

“We thought we actually played well and we have a lot of talent,” freshman Dan Finan said. “We just need to get on the same page and perfect our plays in practice this week.”

Next week Alumni faces Duncan. Morrissey has a bye week, and will play the Highlanders in two weeks.

Carroll 7, St. Edward’s 6

A blocked extra point separated Carroll and St. Edward’s in a defensive battle Sunday as the Vermin were victorious, 7-6.

Carroll scored in the second quarter on a quarterback sneak by junior Brian Vaio. The score was set up by a clutch 15-yard catch by freshman Bo Brinkman at the one-yard line. The play gave momentum back to the Vermin following a St. Ed’s sack of Vaio.

“The offensive line gave me time to work and the guys made some nice plays,” Vaio said of the touchdown drive.

The Gentlemen struck first, reaching the end zone through the air early in the second quarter. The extra point was blocked by junior defensive end Kris Kast, and that play created the difference in the final score.

St. Ed’s took over on offense with 7:20 remaining in the game, hoping for a game-winning drive. They converted on a third down, but then threw four consecutive incomplete passes to give the ball back to Carroll. The Vermin proceeded to run out the clock.

“It was a good game,” Carroll coach sophomore Patrick Shanley said. “We stayed classy the whole game and it showed when we pulled out the win.

Vermin captain Nick Ruof was also very encouraged by the victory.

“Our defense looked real good,” the junior wide receiver said. “On offense we got our stuff together when we needed it to happen. We caught the ball when we threw it, and we ran the ball well.”

The close loss is the first in awhile for St. Ed’s, who finished the regular season undefeated in 2008.

“We didn’t come out like we hoped to,” St. Ed’s senior captain Andy Nester said. “We didn’t practice the way we wanted to this week. The offense just stalled.”

The Gentlemen have a bye week coming up, giving them two weeks to prepare for Fisher.

“We just have to work on our coverage a little bit, maybe spice it up a little as it was a little vanilla,” Nester said. “I was pretty pleased with our defense.”

The Vermin will play Fisher next week while the Gentlemen have a bye week.

Dillon 23, O’Neill 0

Dillon routed O’Neill 23-0 in a game featuring different offensive styles and expectations.

The Big Red dominated every aspect of the game as it blended hard-hitting, opportunistic defense with an overpowering running attack that was just too much for the Mob to handle.

“Our defense and offensive line really set the tone for the day,” said junior captain Jordan Smith.

The Dillon defense set the tone on just the third play of the game. Freshman linebacker Dan Balcarcel intercepted Mob freshman quarterback Chris Delillo. The Big Red defense continued to harass O’Neill’s offense the rest of the day, not allowing a first down through the first three quarters and forcing four fumbled snaps and three sacks.

Along with the Big Red’s outstanding defensive performance, the story of the game was Dillon’s offensive line. They capitalized on the Mob’s mistakes by controlling the line of scrimmage and creating holes for running backs Smith, sophomore Eric Herbert, and freshman Terry Howard. Smith scored two touchdowns in the game.

“Our offensive line was the key for us. [Freshmen] Dan McGeever and Bob Burkett, [juniors] Andrew Watkins, Mike Belatti, and [tight end] Jonathan Liedl, and [senior] Pat Jackson get the credit for this game,” said Smith.

“We had to cut some talented linemen this season and have ended up with a really good group here,” Jackson said.

For the Mob, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

“It’s tough,” says senior captain Charles Johnson. “We have a completely new offense and defense. Everybody on this team works hard, most guys play both ways. No matter what, we’re going to come ready to play in two weeks against Keenan.”

Dillon plays Keenan this week, while O’Neill has an bye week before encountering the Knights.