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Football: Mount Carmel defense stops Downers Grove North in 7-0 win in 7A

With Downers Grove North defensive back Michael Prochazk(15) holding his right arm Mount Carmel tight end Sam Connolly reaches for

With Downers Grove North defensive back Michael Prochazka (15) holding his right arm, Mount Carmel tight end Sam Connolly reaches for the ball with his left. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 16, 2014 3:28AM



Christian Searles is old enough to realize line play is indispensable to defensive backs.

The Mount Carmel senior had his second interception in the final minute Saturday afternoon as the Caravan allowed host Downers Grove North a mere 26 yards of offense in a Class 7A quarterfinal.

Searles’ second theft — this one against the third Downers Grove North quarterback of the game — preserved a 7-0 victory for the Caravan.

Mount Carmel (11-1), the defending Class 8A state champion, will travel to Edwardsville, the undefeated and top-seeded team in the quadrant, for a semifinal match-up next week.

Downers Grove North had its season end at 8-4.

“Our front seven does an incredible job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Searles said.

“There is a reason we get to play another day,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said of his defense, which did not allow a first down in the first three quarters. “Way, way too many mistakes on offense. Let’s give credit to (Downers Grove North). Their kids did a great job.”

Mount Carmel drove deep into Trojans territory on its first two possessions only to have the Downers Grove North defense make defiant stands with back-to-back fourth-down stops.

“Coming into the game ... we knew our defense could keep us in (the game),” Downers Grove North coach John Wander said.

Downers Grove North appeared to land the first significant counterpunch early in the second quarter with Edwin Phillips’ strip of a Caravan ballcarrier.

Richard Olekanma recovered for the Trojans at the Carmel 33-yard line, but Searles made the first of his two picks on the ensuing play from scrimmage.

“After the turnover, I thought they would go for a big play,” Searles said. “I was expecting a deep ball.”

Searles’ interception reversed the field position, and Marquise Peggs’ pick on the Trojans’ next possession led to the only score of the game.

Facing its third fourth-down conversion of the half, Sam Connolly made the offensive play of the game for Mount Carmel.

The tight end hauled in a Marko Borichi pass with one hand in the corner of the end zone from 11 yards out with a minute-plus to play before halftime.

“It was a play action, so I had to fake the run first,” Connolly said of the fourth-and-3 call. “I was the primary receiver. Playoffs is the best time of the year.”

Sebastian Calvino had a 10-yard quarterback keeper from deep in his own end 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. It was the only first down of the game for Downers Grove North.

Every other possession ended with either an interception or a three-and-out.

“We like to run the ball,” Wander said of the Trojans’ game plan. “That’s a dominant front for an option team (to succeed).”

Mount Carmel feature back Matt Domer nearly quintupled the Trojans’ offensive output with a game-high 128 yards rushing.



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