Morris handles Dundee-Crown
Dundee-Crown's defense played toe-to-toe with the Morris offense for most of Friday's clash at the D-C Bowl, but the Morris defense played even better. That unit dominated on a waterlogged, muddy, grass field to lift the visitors to a 20-2 nonconference victory and a 2-1 record.
Dundee-Crown (1-2) played without starting quarterback Conor Ryan, who was ruled out of Friday's game on Wednesday due to illness.
With running back Patrick Sprouse filling in for Ryan on short notice, the mostly one-dimensional Chargers managed only 27 total yards in the first half and 119 overall against an active, physical unit led by middle linebacker Will Wringer.
"We really think we have an excellent defense," Morris coach Al Thorson said. "They're going to keep us in games. We need to play a little better offensively to help them out."
The Chargers can relate.
D-C's longest offensive play of the night was a 41-yard gain on a halfback option pass from junior Sean Jay to senior Nick Shydlowski with D-C trailing 14-2 late in the third quarter. But like all eight of the Chargers' possessions, that, too, yielded no points as the drive bogged down after the big play.
Sprouse punted 7 times. The only D-C drive that didn't end in a punt was a fourth-quarter march to the Morris 35-yard line. However, on second-and-4, Sprouse was hit from behind as he was about to throw and Morris defensive lineman Jacub Vota recovered the fumble for the game's only turnover.
D-C took the early lead when a high snap over the head of Morris punter Keagan Sobol went through the end zone for a safety with 8:30 left in the first quarter.
Morris had trouble gaining traction against the Charger defense early on. The visitors drove 86 yards in 13 plays to the Dundee-Crown 2 yard-line, but a fourth-down rush with 8:17 left in the second quarter was bottled up by a gaggle of D-C defenders, led by senior Christian Brunner and the entire secondary.
"We felt really good," D-C senior defensive back Nick Musielewicz said of the goal-line stand. "We felt like we were a team that could beat these guys."
However, after another three-and-out by the D-C offense and a shanked 8-yard punt, Morris drove 20 yards in 4 plays, taking the lead on a 9-yard pass from Nathan Guth to Jacob Webb. Morris settled for a 6-2 lead with 4:42 left in the half after the extra point was missed.
Following another D-C punt, Morris drove 70 yards in 9 plays, capped by Michael Gerischer's 2-yard run with 25.6 left in the half. He also ran for the conversion and a 14-2 lead.
That drive was keyed by a 41 yard, tackle-breaking run by senior Michael Feeney. He finished with 16 carries for 98 yards. Gerischer added 80 yards in 13 attempts. Gerischer finished off the scoring with a 1-yard, fourth-quarter plunge.
The D-C defense was on the field for 53 plays compared to 34 plays for the Morris defense.
"They were obviously out on the field way too long, but it's a team game," Chargers coach Mike Steinhaus said. "When the offense needs help we need to make plays of special teams and defense and tonight we just didn't make enough plays."
Morris managed 245 total yards, 236 on the ground.
"I was proud of the way our defense played, very proud of it," D-C junior linebacker Nick Pellegrino said. "That's a very good, physical team right there, Morris. We played (as physical) if not more physical than them. I'm really proud of my defense but, obviously, the scoreboard didn't add up the way we wanted to."