Benet has too many moves for Carmel

By Wes Holtsclaw
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/20/2017 11:16 PM

Once Benet found its groove, there was little Carmel could do.

The Redwings overcame an early deficit with 31 unanswered points and held off the host Corsairs to rumble into the postseason with a 38-21 road win at Baker Stadium in East Suburban Catholic play Friday.

"We withstood their initial charge," said Benet coach Pat New. "Credit to our guys, they kept their composure, played hard and made it happen."

Sophomore quarterback Colin Gillespie completed 13 of 18 for 109 yards with two scores through the air and a pair on the ground to key visiting Benet (6-3, 5-2).

Thomas Snell added a 115-yard rushing night on 21 carries, while Conner Reid paced the defense with a pair of interceptions.

"We came out a little bit slow, but we made adjustments to their defense," said Gillespie. "After the first quarter we got our offense going and the defense grabbed some big turnovers for us to put is in good field position. We took advantage of it."

Early, Carmel (1-8, 1-6) appeared prime for the upset. The Corsairs took possession near midfield after a big defensive stand to open play, and needed three plays to find paydirt.

A 26-yard Miles Tramill run and a 19-yard connection between Athan Kaliakmanis to Noah Thigpen set up Sean Lynch with a 2-yard plunge for six.

Neither team found much success offensively until the closing minutes of the second quarter, when Benet took control.

A 19-yard throw from Gillespie to Nick Keyes along with a series of runs from Snell pushed the Redwings deep into the red zone. The sophomore signal caller burst across the goal line from the 1 to tie the game.

A defensive break came next for Benet as Reid picked off Kaliakmanis with a return to the Carmel 10.

From there, Gillespie touched Ben Cooney with a 5-yard scoring toss to grab the lead as the half closed.

"We count on our guys to make those big plays," said New. "They stepped up and took care of business tonight."

Benet's defense kept the momentum going in the third quarter, forcing a fumble deep in Carmel territory on the Corsairs' second possession with a recovery at the 1. Gillespie added another 1-yard burst into the end zone for the second half's first points.

On Carmel's next offensive play, Reid played the spoiler with his second interception of the game. A 12-yard run from Snell pushed the ball inside the 5 to set up Victor Karam for a 20-yard field goal.

"Our defense had a good push on them and we were able to make plays," said Reid.

The next Benet possession saw a methodical drive push into the fourth quarter, where Gillespie landed an 8-yard touchdown strike to Jack Eschenbach to cap play for the first-stringers.

Facing a 24-point deficit, Carmel continued to battle to the final horn.

Senior back Zaire Barnes capped his prep career with an 84-yard scoring run to cap a 127-yard rushing performance.

On the onside kick attempt, however, Benet's Porter MacKenna was in the right place at the right time with a pick up and race to the end zone from midfield.

The Corsairs regained possession closed the game with one last surge, as Steven Gracia landed a 42-yard strike to an open Myles Tramill to produce the closing tally.

Overall, Carmel outgained Benet 329 to 298 thanks to the strong fourth-quarter close. But 2 interceptions and a lost fumble were too much against the playoff-bound Redwings, who hope to keep the momentum going.

"We have the potential to be very good," said New. "We just have to play our game. We're excited to enter this second season."

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