Carmel's hard-luck season took another turn for the worse Saturday afternoon in Chicago.
The Corsairs saw their effort fall short in a 17-15 East Suburban Catholic Conference loss to St. Patrick at Hanson Stadium.
"We've had a few games like this that we could have won," said Carmel coach Andy Bitto. "You can't give up a 94-yard hitch play and win the game."
What Bitto was referring to was a Zach Fuller-to-Trevor Heinlein swing pass at the Shamrocks 6. The sophomore running back outraced the Carmel defensive backfield to give the Shamrocks (5-3, 3-2) a 15-9 lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
Carmel (1-6, 1-3) had pinned St. Patrick back on the 1, but an offsides penalty moved the ball to the 6.
With 6:22 left in the game, and Carmel on its own 1, Bitto called for punter Michael Georgen to step out of the end zone, giving the Shamrocks a 17-9 lead with a automatic safety. The Shamrocks earlier gave up 2 points when a snap from center went out of the end zone.
"I was doing the math in my head and figured that was the best thing to do, "said Bitto. "If we punt, they get the ball at the 30 and they could score a touchdown. That would give them a 21- or 22-9 lead. The way it worked out we got a good kickoff and got the ball back three plays later."
The Corsair made the most of their chance when quarterback Nick Grandolfo scored from the 9 with 2:38 left in the game to make the score 17-15. Running back Darrius Crump who had a big day with a 92-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and rushed for 163 yards on 10 attempts, scampered 49 yards to set up the score by Grandolfo.
On the 2-point attempt to tie the score the Shamrocks Quentin Voce stopped Michael Huiras at the 5.
"We made some big plays on defense, and that was one of them," said St. Patrick coach Dan Galante. "Our players showed a lot of grit when we needed it. I was worried about Carmel. In this conference no matter who the opponent is you have to bring your 'A' game."
The Shamrocks, who have won four in a row after a 1-3 start, saw Fuller (5-14, 132 yds. 2 TD) toss an 18-yard touch down pass to Mike Warner on their opening drive of the second half.
Running back Thomas Sliwak picked up the slack at running back for the injured Jeremy Molina with 173 yards in 37 attempts.
"We work on running the ball," said Sliwak. "We had to just keep pounding the ball. The offensive line did a great job in keeping us going."
After Carmel scored, Sliwak carried six of seven times to run out the clock. A 5-yard offsides penalty on a third-and-2 gave the Shamrocks a first down to help nail the victory.
"We have to be more consistent with the offense in order to have a shot to beat Notre Dame next week," said Crump. "We know we have ability, we just have to keep it together."