Carmel can't solve Notre Dame
Carmel entered Friday night in desperation mode against Notre Dame, and the Corsairs' bold play calling exemplified that.
Needing a win over the Dons to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Corsairs went for it on fourth down every time they crossed the Dons' 40-yard line and coach Blake Annen even called for two fake punts over the course of the game.
The boldness made sense, and nearly paid off. Mainly because Carmel's defense was up to the task.
Carmel's best was able to hang tight with Notre Dame for most of the contest. Dons' starting running back Ty Gavin left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return, putting Notre Dame's running game in a rut for the entire third quarter where the Corsairs tied the game at seven.
But, Notre Dame's running game emerged in the final period in the most clutch way possible. Two fourth-quarter rushing scores helped the Dons (7-1, 5-1) win on the road 21-7 over the Corsairs (3-5, 3-3), which all but ends Carmel's playoff chances.
After Gavin left the game, he was replaced by two-way player Anthony Ranallo, who scored both fourth quarter touchdowns on runs of 60 and 14 yards.
"Anthony has always been there, he knows what to do," Notre Dame coach Michael Hennessey said. "Defensively, he's a guy we depend upon so much. Ty's done a great job, but he stepped up."
Although Notre Dame dropped 41 points against St. Patrick last weekend, Carmel's defense showed out against one of the East Suburban Catholic Conference's top teams. The Corsairs held Notre Dame to 7 points through three quarters, recovered a fumble on an option play and forced the Dons to punt seven times.
"Our guys were able to get off some of those blocks and make tackles," Annen said. "That's the basics of football, making tackles, and they did a good job of that."
The Carmel defense rallied from a disastrous opening series, as Notre Dame needed only two plays to score behind an 88-yard run from quarterback Anthony Sayles and Gavin's 12-yard touchdown scamper.
As stout as the Corsairs defense was, it wasn't enough as Carmel's offense continuously stalled out. The Corsairs punted five times, to go along with one turnover, five allowed sacks and numerous failed fourth down conversion attempts.
Carmel sophomore running back Syone Usma-Harper was against the Corsairs main offensive catalyst, as he scored Carmel's lone touchdown of the game and compiled 106 all-purpose yards on the night.
Hennessey pointed to his team being able to endure the ups and down of the game, where Ranallo's big-play touchdowns made the difference.
With Carmel's playoff chances extremely thin, Annen said he plans to take preparation for St. Patrick one day at a time.
"I hear we have a lot of playoff points, so that's obviously good," Annen said. "But, if we don't take care of business next week, that doesn't matter."
While Notre Dame already has a playoff berth but can't claim the ESCC title due to a loss against Marist, Hennessey said he's still wants to see his team claim one more win.
"We had a couple of bigger plays that made the difference," Hennessey said. "We'll try to move on and get number eight next week, and see what we can do."