Conn's late TD lifts St. Charles East over Carmel
Scoring a pair of touchdowns within a 5-minute span in the fourth quarter, Carmel appeared to be on the verge of recording its first win of the season.
St. Charles East had other plans, however.
Displaying some good old-fashioned grit, the Saints (2-0) withstood a costly block-in-the-back penalty during their 10-play, 73-yard drive that was capped by Cole Conn's 6-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds remaining during their 33-28 nonconference triumph over the Corsairs (0-2) Friday night at Norris Stadium.
Conn, who carried the ball 29 times for 201 yards -- 139 of those yards coming in the second half -- accounted for 50 yards during the eventual game-winning drive.
"I really couldn't do anything without the offensive linemen," Conn said of the unit that included Eduardo Mancera, Alex Cox, Brock Donati, Dylan Barrett and Tyler Risberg. "They got vertical push in the second half. They figured out what they needed to do and made the holes.
"I had the easy part -- just run the ball."
Despite racking up 479 yards of total offense, the Saints were forced to overcome some of their own mistakes that included a pair of fumble losses and half-dozen penalties.
"The mental errors and dropped balls killed us," said Saints coach Bryce Farquhar. "We only punted the ball once tonight. That means we were moving the ball. Going into our conference (season), we have to clean those things up.
"The positive was our kids came through."
None more so than Conn, who scored 3 touchdowns and also caught a pair of passes for 26 yards on the late go-ahead drive.
"I thought Cole was exceptional today," said Farquhar. "His gap reads and ability to be explosive up field and get an extra yard when he needed to was awesome."
Carmel received a 24-carry, 125-yard, 3-TD performance of its own from junior tailback Syone Usma-Harper while suffering its second consecutive heartbreaking defeat.
A week ago, the Corsairs dropped a 35-34 decision to Libertyville on a 20-yard pass and successful 2-point conversion by the Wildcats as time ran out.
"St. Charles East played really well but I think the biggest thing I told our team is we're this close," said Carmel coach Blake Annen while holding his index finger and thumb an inch apart. "We're about one inch away. We're one or two plays away.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end and that's all we can ask for. Now we have to get back to work and get ready to go for next week."
Saints sophomore quarterback Nathan Hayes completed 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards while senior linebacker Nick Schumann's interception near midfield with 16 seconds remaining sealed the victory.