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Men’s Interhall Football: Opening weekend kicks off

By Jack Hefferon, Sam Gans, David Kenney, Joseph Monardo, Victoria Jacobsen and Matt Unger | Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Both St. Edward’s and Sorin entered their season opener wanting a successful beginning to the new campaign. After an exciting contest Sunday, only the Gentlemen (1-0) have gotten their season off to the start they hoped for.

The Otters (0-1) started the game on offense and proceeded to march down the field behind the powerful backfield of junior fullback Matthew Pepe and senior halfback Mike Browder. Pepe found the end zone on a 20-yard dash, but Sorin failed to convert the extra point attempt.

Facing an early deficit, the Gentlemen got the ball back and, lining up exclusively in the shotgun, used the short and intermediate passing game to move the ball down the field. Sorin eventually finished off their scoring drive with a 9-yard pass from senior quarterback Matt Abeling to sophomore wide receiver Zach Siefring. Sorin blocked the extra point attempt, though, and the score stayed tied at 6-6.

Sorin began driving toward another score, but the momentum shifted when Abeling, in his first game on defense, intercepted a Spinelli pass and returned it 52 yards to the Otters’ 13-yard line.

“We were low on numbers, so everyone played both ways,” St. Edward’s junior captain and running back Jay Mathes said. “[Abeling] had never played cornerback before, and he was carrying the ball like a loaf of bread on that return.”

Abeling’s return set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Sean Reed, and a converted extra point gave the Gentlemen a 13-6 lead at the half. Abeling finished 18-of-24 with 143 yards and two touchdown passes

After a 61-yard zone-read keeper by Spinelli, the Otters found themselves inside the red zone and converted on a pretty fade route to sophomore wide receiver Ryan Robinson.

After their first extra point attempt was blocked, the Otters had more confidence in going for two points and the win.

“It’s like we always say, go big or go home,” Otters senior wide receiver Bobby Sullivan said.

The Otters snapped the ball directly to Browder in the wildcat, but his pass was intercepted. A stop by Sorin’s defense allowed their offense one more chance at the end zone, but a botched snap recovered by St.

Edward’s freshman defensive lineman Patrick Doyle sealed the game for the Gentlemen.

While excited by the win, Mathes emphasized that his team should not get too excited.

“We didn’t want to pass as much as we did,” Mathes said. “We still have a lot to work on.”

St. Edward’s will play Carroll (0-0) next week, while Sorin will take on Fisher (0-0-1).

Siegfried 3, Duncan 0

Siegfried beat Duncan in a tense defensive battle that left both teams with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The lone score came from Siegfried sophomore kicker Stephen Wandor on a 45-yard field goal.

The two-time defending champion Ramblers (1-0) were looking to continue their tradition and come out big winners against the Highlanders (0-1), who finished winless last season.

That was not the case, though, thanks to a stifling Duncan defense.

“We didn’t really have a counter for the blitzes up the middle,” Siegfried senior quarterback Matt Meinert said. “We really weren’t prepared on offense.”

Neither team could get anything going on offense until the second quarter, when Wandor’s long field goal attempt went through the uprights, barely clearing the crossbar.

“I was expecting to make it,” Wandor said. “The line did a great job blocking, Matt Meinert had a great hold, and it’s why we do it in practice.”

Duncan had two opportunities to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth quarter, sustaining drives into Rambler territory. The Highlanders’ first chance ended when Meinert, also a defensive back for the Ramblers, broke up a 4th-and-11 pass attempt. The second attempt was unsuccessful after Siegfried senior safety Scott Schinderle intercepted a pass with a minute to go.


Siegfried only had 59 yards of total offense. Duncan had a slight edge, with 64 offensive yards, but was unable to put any points on the board.

Even though Siegfried ended the game on top, the Ramblers were displeased in their effort.

“We’re disappointed,” Meinert said. “We expect to win bigger than that, but we’ll get right back at it and try to improve.”

Duncan takes on Knott next Sunday. Siegfried gets a bye before also battling Knott in two weeks.

Morrissey 7, Knott 6

From the crack of the first hit, to the final knee taken by Morrissey freshman quarterback Nick Conrad, Morrissey and Knott were neck and neck in a heated, dusty and hard-hitting Morrissey victory.

Ultimately, it was the youth of the Manor (1-0) that carried the day.

Knott (0-1) opened scoring with a 38-yard field goal from freshman kicker David Pratt After turnovers by both teams, Knott put up another field goal to take a 6-0 halftime lead.

On Morrissey’s second drive of the second half, Conrad connected with freshman wide receiver Patrick Dugan for a 60-yard gain.  A few plays later, Dugan made a beautiful diving catch to tie the score at 6-6.  The extra point gave Morrissey the 7-6 lead that it held until the final whistle.

For the rest of the game, Morrissey’s defense was relentless with the defensive line and linebacker core notching multiple sacks against Knott’s offensive line. Manor sophomore captain Alex Oloriz especially credited junior Tom Nield with his play not only on the defensive line, but protecting Conrad on the offensive line as well.

“Nield was relentless on both side of the ball today on every play,” Oloriz said.

Nield, along with freshman linebacker Tyler Plantz, freshman linebacker Rayven Moore and sophomore defensive end Taylor Stein led the defense in keeping the pressure on Knott’s offense for the Juggerknotts’ final offensive drive.  The Manor made a big defensive stop on fourth down to regain possession with about a minute left to play. With the win secured, Conrad took a knee and ran out the clock to seal the victory for Morrissey.

The Knott players were very disappointed with their loss, yet determined for the rest of the season.

“Our defense looked very good today except for two plays,” Knott junior captain Dan Shaffer said. “We know where we need to improve and we plan on not losing another game.”

Morrissey was not only happy to be victorious but was encouraged by the play of their young team.

“Our freshmen had a huge impact on the tempo of the game,” Oloriz said.

The Manor will look to pick up their second win next week against Alumni while Knott will face Duncan next Sunday.

Stanford 13, Keenan 0

The Stanford Chapel retains its name for one more year as Stanford shut out Keenan in the most recent installment of the rivalry game.

The Griffins (1-0) utilized their clear size advantage to overpower the Knights (0-1).

The defensive tone of the game was established on the opening drive, as Stanford freshman linebacker

Michael Morsches’ interception halted Keenan’s first drive.

Stanford senior quarterback Anthony Rizzo tossed an early touchdown and later capped off his strong showing by throwing a touchdown pass on the run to junior wide receiver Pat Kelly in the fourth quarter.

Rizzo credited much of his success to his protection.

“I think our offensive line was the standout,” Rizzo said. “Offensive line was a big problem for us last year, and they did a really good job today.”

Even in a loss, the Keenan defense was impressive as they kept steady pressure on the Griffins’ offense. The

Knight defense was led by their senior co-captains, linebacker Bart Dear and defensive back Jamie Koepsel.

Still, the Griffins were too much for the Knights to handle.

“There were too many third down conversions by Stanford,” Koepsel said. “But our run defense looked very good.”

The potential that several Stanford freshmen showed in the week’s opener was promising. Besides Morsches, wide receiver Connor Healy, offensive lineman Ruben Carrion and offensive lineman Pat Rauh all started and made their presence felt.

The Griffins appreciate the importance of their win.

“We see these guys every day,” Rizzo said. “You know, just walking to class, going to the dining hall. But it’s always nice to know that you beat them.”

The Knights struggled with protecting junior quarterback Trevor Yerrick, who was forced out of the pocket almost incessantly by the quick Stanford defense. Despite their opening loss and apparent rust, the Knights remain confident.

“It’s nothing we can’t fix,” Dear said.

The Knights look to rebound against Keough next Sunday, while the Griffins head into a bye week.

Fisher 6, Zahm 0

Compared to the three years that Fisher waited to win an interhall football game through means other than a forfeit, the nearly 48 minutes they had to wait to score against Zahm Sunday seemed like nothing.

It was just barely enough to notch their first win, as senior halfback Michael McMahon scurried into the end zone as time expired to give the Green Wave a victory.

Zahm (0-1) and Fisher (1-0) had remained deadlocked at 0-0 until the very end of the fourth quarter, with both defensive units making forward progress almost impossible.

“Our defense was incredible,” Fisher senior coach Eric Prister said. “[Zahm’s] entire line was afraid of what was coming next. They went backwards most of the time.”

Fisher’s offense put together a series of drives, but failed to finish any of them off, something that the team will look to improve in the coming weeks.

“We had drives, but didn’t get a touchdown until the last second,” said Prister who is also an associate sports editor at The Observer.

The missed opportunities were all but forgotten when the ball was tossed to McMahon and he raced 50 yards to the end zone, aided by several nice blocks from his teammates.

Fisher had never before attempted the game-winning play, as the complex formation was drawn up in a time-out in the waning seconds.  Fisher was originally flagged for illegal formation with too many receivers down field, but, because the pass from junior quarterback Pat Hertenstein was completed behind the line of scrimmage, the play was allowed to stand.

Although the Zahmbies were downcast after their heart-wrenching defeat, senior captain Mark Pomerenke did identify some positive developments.

“Our defense was solid until the lapse at the end,” Pomerenke said.

Zahm’s offensive situation remains frustrating, as the Zahmbies failed to score and only converted two first downs.

“Our offense wasn’t polished and couldn’t execute,” Pomerenke said. “We couldn’t get a gain.”

Fisher will look to continue its winning ways next week against Sorin, while Zahm will look to fine tune their offense during a bye week.

O’Neill 6, Keough 0

O’Neill executed a combination of ball control and strong defense to near perfection in its win over Keough on Sunday

The Angry Mob capitalized off of a blocked first quarter punt for the game’s only score and held Keough’s offense without a first down.

The blocked punt occurred following the Kangaroos’ (0-1) first possession in the first quarter. The punter lined up only five yards behind center instead of the usual eight, and, consequently, O’Neill (1-0) junior nose tackle Mark Welsh easily blocked and recovered the ball.

“It was a simple miscommunication on my part,” Keough senior captain Kevin Laughlin said. “We were trying to give them a look at a fake punt formation.”

O’Neill’s offense quickly took advantage of field position inside the red zone as freshman fullback Eric Reed plowed 15 yards though the middle of the defense for a touchdown.

After this score, O’Neill maintained a conservative offensive approach, handing the ball to its running backs and fullback and converting key fourth downs.

On one such fourth-and-short play late in the fourth quarter, instead of the usual run, Mob junior quarterback JP McCabe completed a deep 30 yard pass that put them inside the Keough 20 and crushed any Kangaroo hopes for a comeback.

“It was definitely a gutsy but perfectly-timed call by [offensive coordinator Bobby Powers],” O’Neill junior captain Guy Schwartz said. “Keough was completely sold on the run.”

O’Neill’s defense stifled Keough’s offense, and the Kangaroos failed to convert a first down. Laughlin attributed the Kangaroos’ offensive woes to a lack of cohesiveness on the offensive line, something Keough will look to improve upon in practice.

Next Sunday, Keough will look to earn its first win against Keenan, while O’Neill will battle Dillon.