IHSA Class 7A semifinal: Mount Carmel trounces Batavia 64-26

Darrion Dupree scores 4 early touchdowns to lead Caravan

Mt. Carmel's Darrion Dupree (6) scores a touchdown against Batavia during a class 7A semifinal football playoff game at Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago on Saturday, Nov 18, 2023.

CHICAGO – The Darrion Dupree revenge tour was on full display Nov. 18 and Batavia was his latest victim.

Mount Carmel’s running back has been motivated to win another championship since he missed last year’s postseason run because of an injury. Dupree didn’t waste time Saturday night, scoring four touchdowns in the first 14 minutes of Mount Carmel’s 64-26 win in the Class 7A state semifinals.

“I took that to heart,” Dupree said of his mission.

On its first drive, Mount Carmel (12-1) followed the same script it’s been using all season, going 80 yards with Dupree scoring on a 2-yard run with 8:46 left in the first quarter to give his team an early 7-0 lead.

The Caravan defense had a fourth-down stop on its 27-yard line on Batavia’s first possession and Dupree then showed off another skill, catching a pass that seemed to be behind his head and scoring with 6:50 left in the first quarter to make it 14-0.

Dupree added a third touchdown on a 35-yard run to make it 21-7 with 2:20 left in the first quarter before he scored what felt like the knockout punch early in the second quarter. Dupree caught a pass from quarterback Jack Elliott and broke free from a couple of attempts to tackle him. The 74-yard reception made it 28-7 with 10:45 left in the second quarter.

“Special,” Elliott said of Dupree’s catch and run. “Special.”

The rest of the way, Mount Carmel kept scoring at will. The Caravan took a 35-14 lead with 1:57 left in the second quarter when Elliott found Darrion Gilliam for a 36-yard TD pass. Elliott hit Zander Gorman late in the second quarter for a 2-yard touchdown before Elliott scored on a 64-yard run in the third quarter.

Alonzo Manning II scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter. Rory Small had a 1-yard scoring run late in the game.

“We’ve played a lot of teams around Illinois but I haven’t played too many teams like that,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said.

“I took that to heart.”

—  Darrion Dupree, Mount Carmel running back

Elliott finished the game with 444 passing yards and 74 yards on the ground. Dupree had 101 receiving yards and 74 rushing yards. Gilliam had 123 receiving yards on seven catches.

Dupree knew the importance of starting fast, which is why he took it upon himself to make plays early.

“It was really big for us,” Dupree said. “For us seniors, it’s our last time on this field and it’s crazy. We really took that to heart and had to come and do what we did today.”

Mt. Carmel's Daniel Banks (44) sacks Batavia’s Ryan Boe (21) for a loss during a class 7A semifinal football playoff game at Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago on Saturday, Nov 18, 2023.

Batavia (11-2) scored its first touchdown when Ryan Boe found Charlie Whelpley for a 60-yard pass with 4:02 left in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 14-7.

Boe connected with Whelpley for an 8-yard TD pass in the second quarter. Boe hit Brett Berggrenn for a 44-yard TD pass to make it 57-20 Mount Carmel at the end of the third quarter. Boe found Berggren again for a 25-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.

Boe threw for 309 yards. Whelpley finished with 97 receiving yards.

Saturday marked the third straight time that Mount Carmel has knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs, including last season’s Class 7A state title game.

Piron was proud of the way his team battled until the end.

“This was tough,” Piron said. “I love our kids and I’m sad that our season is over.”

Mount Carmel will play Downers Grove North (11-2) on Nov. 25 in the Class 7A state championship game at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

Dupree knows his tour is about to end and is looking forward to a grand finale.

“I’m going to be excited,” Dupree said. “It’s going to be the same thing again.”