Ducks upset Wildcats, advance to title game
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Howard 18, Ryan 6
By Alex Bender
Sunday at LaBar Fields, Howard achieved its season-long dream of reaching Notre Dame Stadium with an 18-6 victory over Ryan in the semifinals.
Each team saw its offense stall on its first drives, but Ryan got things going on its second drive, which was capped off with a touchdown run by junior quarterback Shawn Hall, giving the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.
Howard was unable to answer back on the next drive, but good starting field position on its last drive of the half set the Ducks’ offense up well. Howard took advantage with a touchdown pass from senior Stephanie Peterson to senior Maria Ianni, tying the game 6-6 at halftime.
To start the second half, Howard sustained a long drive that was eventually finished off with another touchdown from Peterson to Ianni, giving Howard the 12-6 lead. On its next drive, Ryan had a costly turnover as Howard junior Marissa Browne nabbed a pick that set up yet another score from Peterson to Ianni.
Ryan was unable to make much of its next drive, turning the ball over on downs and allowing Howard to run out the clock to finish off the game and secure its spot in the championship.
The Ryan captain, senior Erin Clark, said she was disappointed with the result, but she said it wasn’t all bad for the Wildcats.
“It’s tough losing, but we had a great season,” Clark said. “This was our first loss on the season, but the girls played their hearts out, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Peterson, on the other hand, expressed great excitement that her team made it to this championship game.
“Our motto since the beginning has been ‘Stadium or Bust,’ so we’re extremely happy to have reached this point,” Peterson said. “We’re not finished though, and we plan on coming home champions next week.”
Howard will take on No. 1 Welsh Family next Sunday at 2 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium with the title on the line.
Morrissey 12, Stanford 7
By Maureen Schweninger
No. 3 Morrissey came out on top in a 12-7 win over No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, clinching a spot in the interhall championship game for the second year in a row.
The Manor opened the game with a 75-yard drive featuring standout senior running back Hunter White. For the first time this season, White did not tally a touchdown, but he finished the game with 138 yards on 21 carries. Sophomore quarterback Declan Zidar dove into the end zone to put Morrissey up by six.
Stanford was unable to respond on its ensuing possession but held Morrissey to a three-and-out in the second quarter. Senior Griffins linebacker Dan Babiak said his team put its experience against Morrissey in last year’s semifinal to good use.
“We came out a lot better [this year],” Babiak said. “We came out with the mentality that our line has to be better than their line, and that freed up our linebackers, and on offense, it gave us time to pass.”
Griffins sophomore quarterback Andrew Foster led a balanced offensive attack and went 8-for-9 in the air, finishing the half with a much-needed touchdown. Stanford’s successful extra point set the score at 7-6.
Zidar said Morrissey made some adjustments during halftime.
“We tightened up the coverage a little bit,” Zidar said. “Then we held them to seven. Counted on the defense in the end and it worked out.”
That Morrissey defense came up with a big interception in the third quarter courtesy of freshman Jarod Luedecker. Zidar then capitalized on the turnover with the winning touchdown, his second of the day.
Babiak said the Griffins are sorry to see the season end, but he is proud of how they’ve improved.
“This has been the best team so far,” Babiak said. “I’m going to remember the guys I played with. Everyone gave 100 percent the whole year, and that’s what really counts for me and the other seniors here.”
Morrissey moves on to battle Keenan for the men’s interhall title in Notre Dame Stadium this Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Welsh Family 28, Farley 7
By Joe Everett
No. 1 Welsh Family left no doubt about its goal Sunday afternoon, downing No. 4 Farley 28-7 to make it back to the women’s interhall championship at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Whirlwinds executed at will on both sides of the ball. Junior captains Sharon Chiang and Rachel Wimsatt said their team is playing their best football at the right time.
“I think a lot of stuff is clicking for us, both offensively and defensively, so we love how we’re playing right now,” Chiang said.
Wimsatt, the Whirlwinds’ quarterback, picked apart the Farley defense, throwing four touchdown passes of 49, 23, 10 and 15 yards. Her receiving corps aided her by making several tough catches, highlighted by senior wide receiver Catherine Michels, who caught two passes for touchdowns.
On the other side, the Finest lacked the offensive firepower to keep up with the Whirlwinds, continually relying on the legs of junior quarterback Lizzy Moulton to gain yardage.
Farley did sustain a long drive near the end of the first half, capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Moulton, to cut the lead to 14-7 at halftime. However, the Finest were frequently hurt by penalties the rest of the way. Senior captain Ali Buersmeyer reflected on her team’s performance after the game.
“I mean, the outcome is obviously disappointing,” Buersmeyer said. “However, it’s just great to be out there with my team. I’m really proud of my team’s performance this year — our offense carried us and our defense always came up with big stops.”
Buersmeyer also thanked the Farley coaching staff, which consisted of multiple Notre Dame football players, including Irish captain and safety Matthias Farley.
“Our coaches were so great — we had the best possible coaches,” Buersmeyer said.
Welsh Family has now made it to Notre Dame Stadium for two straight years and is hungry for redemption after falling to Pangborn last year in the championship.
“We’ve got a great group of girls this year,” Wimsatt said. “I love how we’re playing so cohesively.”
No. 1 Welsh Family will look to complete its mission against No. 2 Howard on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium.
Keenan 7, Dillon 6
By Elizabeth Greason
Keenan bested Dillon 7-6 in a tightly-contested battle Sunday afternoon.
Dillon almost scored in the first half after the Big Red offense, led by junior running back Tyler Dale, marched down the field. A pass to senior receiver Sean O’Leary, who was tackled short of the end zone, put Dillon in field goal range with seconds left in the half.
Keenan junior Ben Evans managed to block the field goal attempt, leaving the Big Red scoreless. Keenan junior captain Michael Koller emphasized the importance of the block.
“It gave us a huge change in momentum,” Koller said. “That’s three points. They would have won with that.”
Dillon’s strong passing game continued when it scored the game’s first points on a pass to O’Leary. Koller said the Big Red offense was difficult to defend.
“They got a lot of yards on us,” Koller said. “We were playing conservative, deep defense and they took advantage.”
Another difference-maker in the game was Dillon’s missed extra point. Keenan recovered with a touchdown drive, scoring on a pass from Knights’ senior quarterback, Aaron DiGenova, to freshman Lukas Cepkauskas, who also caught the winning touchdown in Keenan’s last win. The extra point by kicker Andrew Deye gave Keenan a 7-6 lead, which was met with a rendition of Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” from Keenan’s fans.
Despite the season-ending loss, Dillon sophomore captain John Walsh said he is not disheartened.
“We had a good year,” Walsh said. “Today came down to a few plays. The future looks bright and we’ll be back next year.”
Looking toward the finals, Koller said while the Knights need to improve their time of possession, his team is ready.
“We’ve been to the finals a few times in the last five years, so we want to bring it home,” Koller said. “It’s really cool playing in the stadium, but you’ve got to focus on the game. Our experience will help.”
Keenan will play Morrissey at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium.