St. Viator comes out aggressive early against Carmel

MUNDELEIN — St. Viator coach Dave Archibald was full of bold moves at the start of Friday’s game at Carmel.

After the Lions took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards for a touchdown, St. Viator recovered an onside kick. A few plays later, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-12 at the Carmel 42-yard line and gained 16 yards.

Those early moves set the tone, as St. Viator built a 14-0 lead before the Corsairs offense touched the ball and the Lions roared to a 37-20 victory in Mundelein.

“Our kids have just prepared really well,” Archibald said. “We lost 17 starters from our spring team and this group hasn’t flinched at all as far as their work ethic, their tenacity and their desire to climb. That gives us the opportunity as coaches to create a plan fro them that’s rooted in their confidence, that’s aggressive and helps us do the things we do well.”

Another way St. Viator set a good tone was by lining up in a spread formation, then handing it to junior running back Jake VanBooven, who gained 52 yards on his first three carries.

Both teams started a sophomore quarterback. St. Viator’s Charlie Dolson tossed two touchdown passes in the first quarter — a 25-yard strike to Michael Nix and then to Dominic McKevitt from 22 yards.

“The onside helps for us a lot,” VanBooven said. “Going up 14-0, I would say that’s a game-changer in itself. I just can’t even put words into it, to be honest. It was just unreal. We beat them two years in a row, they thought they were going to come back and beat us, but that just wasn’t the case.”

Leading 14-0, the Lions tried another onside kick after the second touchdown, but Carmel recovered and the offense finally took the field at the 3:08 mark of the first quarter. The Corsairs didn’t keep the ball for long as four runs left them a few inches short on fourth down.

Carmel got its initial first down on the its third possession and got on the board with a 36-yard fade from sophomore QB Johnny Weber to Ashton Gondeck with 4:16 left in the first half.

Trailing 14-7, Carmel got the ball back at its own 6-yard line after a 58-yard punt by Nix. Weber hit Jon Buckley for a 20-yard gain on the first play, but his next pass was intercepted by Justin Mirski.

St. Viator scored on the next snap off a well-designed play. The Lions gave it to Nix on a reverse out of the Wildcat formation and he had plenty of room to rumble for a 25-yard TD with 46 seconds left in the first half. Carmel’s offense picked up the pace in the third quarter, moving 80 yards in three plays after the kickoff. Weber hit Buckley for a couple of catch-and-runs. The first one went for 46 yards down the home sideline, then Buckley caught a slant and cut it outside for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 21-14.

The Corsairs got the ball back and moved into St. Viator territory, but couldn’t convert a fourth-and-four at the 39-yard line. From there, the Lions were aggressive, with a 17-yard pass to Nix and 26 yards to McKevitt on the first two plays. VanBooven finished the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.

After the kickoff, the Lions forced Weber to scramble on third-and-long and his pass under pressure was intercepted by Will Fitzpatrick and returned 20 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-14.

In the fourth quarter, St. Viator added a safety when a punt snap went through the end zone and Carmel’s Gabe Lynch added a 35-yard TD run.

St. Viator (2-2) has now won two in a row, while Carmel (2-2) had been undefeated on the field, losing only by forfeit in Week 1.

“We just didn’t play well.,” Corsairs coach Jason McKie said. “Things we’ve been talking about the last couple weeks — penalties, self-inflicted things — came back to haunt us. We played good football the last two weeks, but we got away with some things.

“We’ve got a really young team, but you’ve got to mature under fire. So it’s good that they’re getting experience now, but we don’t make excuses so we’ve got to go back to work and clean a lot of things up.”

Dolsen finished the night 12 of 16 through the air for 138 yards. VanBooven ran for 99 yards on 16 carries. McKevitt had three catches for 64 yards, while Nix added three for 57.

Weber had 222 yards passing, completing 12-of-22 attempts. Buckley finished with 110 yards on four receptions.