A slow start put Carmel Catholic into a position where it had to fight its way back against visiting Richards, and that was going well into the third quarter.
But the Bulldogs pulled their game together and outscored the Corsairs 21-7 in the fourth quarter as Carmel lost its season opener to Richards 35-21 in a nonconference football game in Mundelein on Friday night.
"There's a lot to work on, but there's more positive than not," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "When you're playing three freshman and a couple of sophomores, rotating guys at some pretty key positions this early in the season . . . It's tough to swallow a loss at any point, but I do see the opportunity for the kids to get better and that's exciting."
After falling behind 14-0 in the opening quarter, Corsairs running back Sean Lynch Jr. scored on a 1-yard run that made the score 14-6 with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
Carmel tied it at 14-14 with 4:26 left in the third quarter, as Adrian Kaliakmanis rushed for the first of two TDs from 3 yards out. Kaliakmanis converted a 2-point conversion, completing a pass to Noah Thigpen in the back of the end zone.
However, Richards scored three touchdowns in the final quarter. First, quarterback Sebastian Castro (12 of 15 passing for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns) connected with Amaree Beard (7 receptions, 93 yards) on a 39-yard TD pass. Then Derek Flowers (27 carries, 142 yards and two touchdowns) scampered in from 2 yards out, followed by a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Leshon Williams.
The Corsairs added a touchdown in the final minute, when Kaliakmanis found the end zone on a 5-yard scamper. He also was 10 of 27 passing for 118 yards in his high school debut as a freshman.
"Our guys stepped and we wanted to pound the rock," Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. "Our guys are conditioned. We say the fourth quarter is our quarter. We're going to wear you down and that's what we did. I thought we were physical.
"Carmel was a good team and I would hate to see their quarterback late in the year to be honest. Being a 14-year old freshman, he's pretty good. I'm glad we got him in week one."
Carmel Catholic hits the road next week visiting DeKalb in another nonconference game in DeKalb on Friday night.