CHICAGO — In football there are barnburners and there is what Brother Rice and Mount Carmel did Friday night at Barda-Dowling Stadium, which in other words set much of the South Side of Chicago ablaze with offensive football.
From Pulaski Avenue to Jackson Park this one should be felt, in particular throughout the Chicago Catholic League and its partners in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Brother Rice made a big statement in the CCL/ESCC’s Blue division by holding off a spirited Mount Carmel team, 43-36, in a game that came down to the very last play of the evening.
Said play, a corner fade into Brother Rice’s end zone that hung in the air like a 50-yard Hail Mary, came just short of being brought in by a group of Caravan, including the dazzling Damarrion Arrington, who did a little bit of everything in scoring all five of Mount Carmel’s touchdowns in the game.
“It means a lot,” Arrington said of his performance. “It was a good fight, we had a good fight, (Brother Rice) just out-played us.”
A week after a loss to St. Ignatius that shocked the Chicago high school community – Mount Carmel’s first shutout loss since 2015 and their first loss to Ignatius since 1928 – Mount Carmel let out a lot of steam in this contest, their homecoming game, but it wasn’t enough to meet the star-studded backfield of the Crusaders, led by Notre Dame-committed quarterback Jack Lausch and powerful running back Aaron Vaughn, a senior transfer from Providence Catholic who has solidified the Crusaders’ rush attack.
“We are very explosive offensively. (Lausch) is the best player in the state,” Brother Rice head coach Brian Badke said.
Brother Rice’s signature drive against Mount Carmel covered 99 yards, starting with just under seven minutes left in the game and the score at 29-21 in favor of the Crusaders. Vaughn got Brother Rice going with a 29-yard run and Lausch topped that with a 43-yard scamper that put Brother Rice deep into Mount Carmel territory. Vaughn later converted a first down on a reception out of a second-and-19 situation and Brother Rice capped the drive off with a 1-yard plunge from Tommy Bennett with 4:20 left in the game.
“You knew it was gonna be a battle, (Mount Carmel) lost a tough one last week,” Badke said. “But I was extremely proud of our guys, we dealt with a lot of adversity. I felt like we were the Oakland Raiders with all the penalties against us.”
Down 36-21, Mount Carmel scored the next 15 points unanswered in a furious comeback. In the immediate drive, a Caravan first down near midfield led to a skirmish on their sideline with Brother Rice and two unnecessary roughness penalties on the Crusaders pushed Mount Carmel up to the Brother Rice 21-yard line. Mount Carmel scored two plays later on a 1-yard run from Arrington. After recovering an onside kick, the Caravan pushed Brother Rice to the brink officially, scoring on a 15-yard whirling dervish of a rush to tie the game and send the home crowd into a frenzy with 68 seconds left in the game.
“We played a way better game this week, we stood up and fought,” Arrington said, comparing Friday’s effort to the St. Ignatius game.
After a 2-point conversion locked the game at 36, it was time for Lausch to show just why he’s been the target of the Golden Domers’ recruitment efforts. Rolling out from his own 35, Lausch aired out the ball deep into Mount Carmel territory and connected with receiver Danny White, who scampered away from his single coverage and into the end zone for a 65-yard score, his second of the evening, that brought the game to its final score.
The pass was the cherry on top for Lausch in a performance that saw him complete 19-of-26 passes for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns on top of 84 yards rushing on 14 carries. Vaughn finished with 98 yards rushing on 17 carries and a score.
Carmel had a committee of quarterbacks take snaps, including Arrington, but among his five scores were two touchdown catches from QB Blainey Dowling, who completed 14-of-25 passes for 170 yards and rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries.