Mount Carmel beats Downers Grove North 35-10 in IHSA 7A championship to win 15th title

Caravan tied with Joliet Catholic for most state championships

Mt. Carmel’s Tavon Rice hold up the championship trophy after the Caravan’s 35-10 win over Downers Grove North in the Class 7A championship on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

NORMAL – Mount Carmel had a difficult meeting the Monday after the Caravan lost in Week 9 to Loyola.

Everyone was held accountable and nothing was held back after Mount Carmel felt like it failed to play to its full potential both as players and coaches.

Those difficult conversations turned into a dominating playoff run and a historic night Saturday. The Caravan defeated Downers Grove North 35-10 to win the Class 7A state title and their 15th state championship, tying Joliet Catholic for the most in the state.

“We haven’t looked back,” quarterback Jack Elliott said. “That’s what the scoreboard shows.”

The scoreboard has been showing lopsided results for the Caravan (13-1) over the past five games. Mount Carmel (13-1) outscored their opponents 213-65 in four games and Saturday was no different.

Elliott got the offense going when he completed a 28-yard pass to Kevin Gardner to give the Caravan a 7-0 lead with 3:55 left in the first quarter. He found Gardner again for a 13-yard pass to make it 14-0 with 54 seconds left in the first before Maurice Densmore scored on a 2-yard run in the second.

The Caravan added on to their 21-3 halftime lead when Elliott and Densmore each rushed in for a touchdown in the second half.

Elliott capped off an impressive junior season by throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns. Elliott fell shy of beating the 7A title-game passing yardage record of 302 set in 2021. Running back Darrion Dupree finished with 78 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards while Densmore finished with 55 receiving yards.

Saturday wasn’t the first time Elliott competed in a state championship after throwing a touchdown on his lone attempt in last season’s title win. But leading the offense as a starter felt different for the first-year starter.

“Obviously winning a state championship is the goal, it’s the greatest feeling there is,” Elliott said. “To win it as a starter, it’s a surreal feeling.”

Mt. Carmel’s Lamont Miller, left, celebrates Maurice Densmore’s touchdown against Downers Grove North in the Class 7A championship on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

The defense also kept up its dominating pace by not allowing the Trojans to build any offensive momentum. They knocked in a field goal in the second quarter and scored on a run with two seconds left in the game, but the Caravan’s defensive pressure on the line became too much for Downers Grove North.

The Trojans finished with 161 total yards of offense, 75 of which came on their last drive when the game was already decided.

“These teams that saw us in the playoffs, they saw a different Mount Carmel team,” Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. “They saw a more explosive, dynamic offense and they saw a defense that was hungry and aggressive.”

The Caravan won their second straight title and third since Lynch took over the program in 2018. But neither Lynch nor Elliott cared about tying Joliet Catholic for the most state championships in the state.

Their focus went back to the whole reason that meeting before the playoffs took place.

“It’s all about Mount Carmel,” Elliott said. “We don’t care about anyone else and that’s all we care about.”