Morrissey holds off Stanford in defensive battle
Hunter McDaniel | Monday, November 17, 2014
On a snowy Sunday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium, No. 1 Morrissey advanced to the men’s interhall title game with an 8-0 win over No. 5 Stanford.
The weather played a part in each team’s play-calling scheme early, as there were very few pass attempts and they traded punts for most of the first half.
The turning point of the first half came late in the second quarter after a punt from Morrissey (6-0) pinned the Griffins (3-2-1) inside their own seven-yard line. On the following play, Stanford freshman quarterback Andrew Foster bobbled a snap, recovered it in the end zone and conceded a safety, giving the Manor a 2-0 lead.
The second half saw both teams continue to trade stops early on.
Morrissey captain and junior running back Erik Rayno praised his team’s defensive performance.
“The defense was outstanding today,” Rayno said. “They needed to step up when our offense made mistakes, and they did just that. All season, they’ve backed us up and kept us in each and every game.”
Ultimately, Morrissey’s running game was able to break through early in the fourth quarter. Manor junior running back Hunter White broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and outpaced the Stanford defense for a 25-yard touchdown run. A blocked extra-point kept the one-score game as Morrissey went ahead, 8-0.
Stanford rallied, going deep into Morrissey territory but an interception from Morrissey senior defensive back James McEntee in the red zone halted the drive.
Stanford burnt it’s timeouts and got the ball back in time for a final drive. After Griffins senior receiver Kevin Connor came down with the ball at the 6-yard line for a 23-yard gain, Foster spiked the ball with four seconds left. However, his final pass sailed just over Connor’s hands to clinch the victory for Morrissey.
Despite the tough ending, Stanford junior captain Dan Babiak praised his offense’s final drive after the game.
“When it kept coming down to those key plays, fourth down and a couple third downs, everyone was in the huddle saying, ‘All right, right here, we need this play,’ and we kept getting it done,” Babiak said. “I was confident with our quarterback, our receivers, our line was blocking well, and I was confident we could get in.”
Rayno praised the Griffins after the hard-fought win.
“Stanford played a tremendous game, and our guys got revved up and played with fire today to match them,” Rayno said. “We need to carry over that toughness into next week.”
Morrissey and Keenan will square off to determine a champion next Sunday at 3:30 p.m., in Notre Dame Stadium.