Mount Carmel overtakes Downers North in 2nd half
Mount Carmel drew upon its past experiences when it battled adversity in its Class 7A second-round game against Downers Grove North on Saturday.
The Caravan trailed 6-3 at the half and battled high winds that took away one side of the field, but Mount Carmel used its experience from its comeback win against Loyola in Week 9 to score 21 points in the second half and win 24-6.
"We just needed to stick to the game plan," Mount Carmel quarterback Blainey Dowling said. "Play Mount Carmel football, don't point fingers, deal with adversity. I thought we did that really well in the second half and that showed."
Mount Carmel (11-0) used the wind to its advantage on its first possession in the second half and took the lead when Dowling floated a ball down the sideline that Jimmy Deacy caught and scored for 43 yards to give the Caravan a 10-6 lead with 8:16 left in the third quarter.
The Caravan couldn't score again with the wind behind their back but they prolonged a drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter and scored on fourth-and-1 when Dowling rushed in to score and give his team a 17-6 lead with 5:22 left in the game. Mount Carmel kept possession after the Caravan kicked off the ball high and the wind kept it from going more than 10 yards and Mount Carmel recovered it on its own 45.
Alonzo Manning II scored on the very next play, a 55-yard run to give Mount Carmel a 24-6 lead with 5:10 left in the game.
Dowling completed 14 of his 20 pass attempts for 107 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 133 yards. Mount Carmel was without starting running back Darrion Dupree, who was out with an injury, but Manning rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown while Jaden Bossie added 66 rushing yards and Deacy added 47 on the ground.
"When your number is called, you have to make plays," Dowling said. "Jaden Bossie and Alonzo Manning did that really well."
Downers Grove North (7-4) scored on its first drive of the game after taking over on the Mount Carmel 33. Trojan quarterback Sam Reichert found Ethan Thulin for a 6-yard pass to take a 6-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter after the missed extra-point attempt.
The Trojans struggled to move the ball after their first possession as the Caravan swarmed the ball and didn't let Downers Grove North build momentum on the ground. Downers Grove North had 21 total yards of offense in the second half.
"The defense kept us in that game," Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. "The defense had one of the best games today, they kept us in that game. They let up the early touchdown but we put them in terrible field position and they made adjustments and were fun to watch."
Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni thought his team battled the Caravan and weather conditions as best as it could, but the Trojans couldn't find ways to take advantage of stalled Mount Carmel drives and the wind when it was on their back.
"We played the No. 1 team in the state who have beaten everyone that they've played," Horeni said. "We gave them everything we had, I don't care what anybody says. I'm unbelievably proud of our kids."
Mount Carmel advances to its fifth straight quarterfinal appearance and will try to advance to the semifinals after losing to Brother Rice in the round last season.
The Caravan will play the winner of either Collinsville or the Crusaders, and while Mount Carmel would like to see its CCL/ESCC Blue rival for a chance to move on to the semifinals, Dowling knows his team will be prepared for whoever it plays.
"Whoever we're facing," Dowling said, "we'll be ready for them."