Long runs -- a 69-yarder by Josh Walinski and a 40-yard jaunt by quarterback Nick Grandolfo -- propelled Carmel Catholic over East Suburban Catholic rival Nazareth Academy 13-7 at Nazareth's Valenta Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Walinski (14 carries, 112 yards, TD, fumble) went from being the hero to the goat -- and back to the hero again in the last few minutes of the game. His 69-yard scamper set up the first score midway through the second quarter.
"We run that play a lot," Walinski said. "It just so happens we caught them in a weird formation and one of our linemen made a great block and cut me loose. It was all green from there."
Grandolfo (9 carries, 72 yards, TD) followed Walinski's long run with a 40-yard touchdown run, which turned out to be the winning score against Nazareth (2-3, 0-3).
Just when it looked as if Carmel (2-3, 2-1) would make its 13-0 lead hold up, Walinski fumbled on his own 7-yard line, allowing Nazareth's Joshua Moore (18 carries, 67 yards) the opportunity to score his team's only touchdown.
"That's my bad," Walinski said. "That's completely on me. But all my teammates and coaches said to forget about it and play hard on the next play."
"He was trying to make a great play but instead set up their touchdown, but that's the way it goes sometimes," said Carmel coach Andy Bitto.
Clinging to a slim 13-7 lead with only a couple of minutes left in the fourth quarter and facing a third-and-15 on his own 40-yard line, Grandolfo pitched the ball to running back Tim Serio. He broke into the open, gaining 26 yards and a key first down in Nazareth territory.
"We didn't run that play all game," said Grandolfo. "We thought that would be a good moment to get outside since they were bunched up in the middle."
Walinski became the hero again, following Serio's run with a 10-yard burst of his own, sealing the victory for Carmel.
"This means a whole lot," Grandolfo said. "We're much better than our record shows. I think we proved that today."
"I thought our offense managed the game well, and I thought our defense played great," said Carmel coach Andy Bitto. "You have to stop the running game no matter what. We beat a really good team here today. This is probably one of the best victories we've had in a long, long time."
"Our line did a great job all day," Walinski said. "It all starts with the big boys. Without them we don't do anything. They carried us today, both sides of the ball."