June 30, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Gold team used key plays at big moments to fend off the Blue team in a 7-0 defensive struggle Saturday afternoon in Notre Dame Stadium at the Blue-Gold flag football game, the culmination of the Notre Dame Monogram Club's fifth annual Football Fantasy Camp.
Gold--led by Notre Dame assistant coaches Jappy Oliver, John Latina and Bernie Parmalee as well as a host of former Irish greats--used a balanced team effort to put seven early points on the board and make the lead stand. Blue threatened on several drives and actually out-gained the Gold squad 84-79 in total yardage, but big plays by the Gold defense preserved the shutout.
Leading the Gold squad at quarterback was Mike Haveard of Pensacola, Fla., a senior quarterback who followed up his brilliant 2006 game by completing 9 of 18 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Haveard spread the ball around to five different receivers on the day, with Terry Novak (Vacaville, Calif.) registering three catches and James Barry (Chicago, Ill.) hauling in two passes for 45 yards and scoring all seven of the game's points.
Gold was led defensively by fifth-year senior Robert Haberkorn from Cape Girardeau, Mo. Haberkorn filled up the stat sheet, making six tackles, including one sack, and intercepting a pass. Barry added five tackles (two sacks), while Terry Philbin (Columbus, Ohio) disrupted Blue quarterbacks all day and registered one sack.
The Blue team was run by two quarterbacks--Granger, Ind.'s Matt Edmonds and Wheatfield, N.Y.'s Bart McGloin. Both had their share of hot streaks, often throwing to receiver Brian Pieroni of Chesapeake, Va., who led all receivers with seven catches for 56 yards. Gene Faut, Jr. (Roselle, Ill.) added two catches for 16 yards and Jim Fontana (Aliquippa, Penn.) had the longest rush of the game, a nine-yard scamper.
Blue drove deep into Gold territory on several occasions but time after time the Gold team responded with crucial interceptions. Perhaps the biggest one of all came late in the fourth quarter as Blue looked to mount a game-tying drive with less than five minutes remaining in the contest. Facing a fourth and seven from his own 25-yard line, Edmonds found Pieroni for a dazzling pass-and-catch to pick up the first down and keep the drive--and Blue's hopes--alive. Pieroni was covered tightly by Gold's Novak and made the grab by stretching well above his head and wrestling Novak for the ball on the way down. However, Blue was unable to turn that momentum into six points, as two plays later Edmonds was hurried into a throw that was intercepted by Patrick Neary (Alexandria, Va.).
The first half of action was marked by stiff defense from both sides. Quarterbacks for both squads had difficulty finding their rhythm amidst the defensive pass rush, resulting in several hurried throws and a combined total of five interceptions.
The Gold team was able to get something going on their second possession, led by Haveard's arm. After his crucial quarterback sneak on third-and-one secured a first down, Haveard hooked up with junior Chris Alley (Tazewell, Va.) who made a diving catch on a slant route to pick up 16 yards and cross into Blue territory. Two plays later Haveard tossed a 40-yard touchdown bomb to Barry for the game's first touchdown. Barry beat his defender and made a nice adjustment on the ball, then followed up his catch by kicking the extra point to put the Gold team up 7-0.
The Blue team threatened to tie the game on their next possession. Edmonds calmly hit three different receivers on three consecutive plays to march the Blue team down to the Gold 18-yard line. The third of those connections, a 23-yard strike to Faut Jr., might have resulted in a score if not for Robert Pourvali's touchdown-saving tackle for Gold. A sack and an additional tackle for loss, both by Barry, helped the Gold team put an end to Blue's red zone threat and take the 7-0 lead into halftime.
After the game the coaches of both squads selected two Most Valuable Players from each team. Bob Johnson (Lititz, Penn.) and Brian Pieroni were named the Blue MVPs while James Barry and Terry Philbin earned the recognition from the Gold coaches.
Participants in the Football Fantasy Camp reported to campus Wednesday afternoon and took part in four practice sessions with current and former Notre Dame coaches and former Irish players providing the instruction. The camp wraps up on Sunday morning. For more information, please see www.ndfootballfantasycamp.com and www.globalfootball.com.