DOWNERS GROVE – Mount Carmel drew upon past experiences as it battled adversity in its Class 7A second-round playoff game against Downers Grove North on Nov. 5.
The Caravan trailed 6-3 at the half and battled high winds that took away one side of the field, but Mount Carmel used its experience from its comeback win against Loyola in Week 9 to score 21 points in the second half and win 24-6.
“We just needed to stick to the game plan,” Mount Carmel quarterback Blainey Dowling said. “Play Mount Carmel football, don’t point fingers, deal with adversity. I thought we did that really well in the second half and that showed.”
Mount Carmel (11-0) used the wind to its advantage on its first possession in the second half and took the lead when Dowling floated a ball down the sideline that Jimmy Deacy caught for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Caravan a 10-6 lead with 8:16 left in the third quarter.
The Caravan couldn’t score again with the wind behind their back but they prolonged a drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter and scored on fourth-and-1 when Dowling rushed in to give his team a 17-6 lead with 5:22 left in the game. Mount Carmel kept possession after the Caravan kicked the ball high into the wind and recovered the onside kick on the 45-yard line.
Alonzo Manning II scored on the next play, a 55-yard run to give Mount Carmel a 24-6 lead with 5:10 left in the game.
Dowling completed 14 of 20 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 133 yards. Mount Carmel was without starting running back Darrion Dupree, who was out with an injury, but Manning rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown. Jaden Bossie added 66 rushing yards and Deacy had 47 on the ground.
“When your number is called, you have to make plays,” Dowling said. “Jaden Bossie and Alonzo Manning did that really well.”
Downers Grove North (7-4) scored on its first drive of the game after taking over on the Mount Carmel 33. Trojans quarterback Sam Reichert found Ethan Thulin for a 6-yard pass and a 6-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter after a missed extra-point attempt.
The Trojans struggled to move the ball after their first possession as the Caravan swarmed the ball and didn’t let Downers Grove North build momentum on the ground. Downers Grove North had 21 total yards of offense in the second half.
“The defense kept us in that game,” Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. “The defense had one of the best games today. They kept us in that game. They let up the early touchdown but we put them in terrible field position and they made adjustments and were fun to watch.”
Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni thought his team battled the Caravan and weather conditions as best as it could, but the Trojans couldn’t find ways to take advantage of stalled Mount Carmel drives and the wind when it was on their back.
“We played the No. 1 team in the state who have beaten everyone that they’ve played,” Horeni said. “We gave them everything we had. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m unbelievably proud of our kids.”
Mount Carmel will be making its fifth straight quarterfinal appearance. The Caravan will face Brother Rice at 6 p.m. Saturday.