Football: Mount Carmel handles St. Patrick
By Patrick Z. McGavin For Sun-Times Media August 25, 2012 11:20PM
Football is all about emotion and mood. Sometimes things even get desperate. Christian Searles knew the Mount Carmel defense had to make a play to help offset a mistake-prone offense.
Searles’ monster hit at his own goal line changed the tenor of Mount Carmel’s season-opening 32-12 victory over St. Patrick in the Kick-Off Classic at Soldier Field on Saturday afternoon.
The 5-foot-8 cornerback tackled Shamrocks receiver Steve Galiardo at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter to prevent St. Patrick from extending its early 6-0 lead.
“I just planted and made a play on the ball,” Searles said. “At first I thought I got there too early, but my teammates all came up to me and started congratulating me.”
His big play deflated the Shamrocks’ upset bid and unleashed a dormant Caravan offense that had turned the ball over on its first two possessions.
Searles also recorded an interception in the game.
Star junior running back Matt Domer ignited the offense with a 34-yard burst on second-and-10 from his own 1-yard line. He also gashed the Shamrocks for 27 yards as a prelude to scoring Mount Carmel’s first touchdown from 16 yards out in the impressive eight-play, 99-yard drive.
“We needed that explosion,” Domer said. “We struggled a little bit at the start. We had the shakes and we were a bit lackadaisical offensively.”
Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti did not like his team’s energy at the start.
“We lacked discipline,” he said. “Offensively, we couldn’t do anything because we kept turning the ball over.”
Domer’s big second-quarter runs were initiated by senior quarterback Don Butkus’ superb decision-making in the option attack.
“He read their defense like a book,” Domer said.
Butkus also hurt the Shamrocks with his arm.
His beautifully thrown 48-yard deep pattern to Jason Gasser down the right sideline yielded Ivan Strmic’s 25-yard field goal that pushed the Caravan to a 10-6 lead at the break.
Domer’s big-play capability and Butkus’ ability to hurt St. Patrick with either his arm or by running simply wore down the Shamrocks. Domer added a 4-yard touchdown run. He appeared to fumble, though the officials ruled he already crossed the goal line.
St. Patrick made one final push, pulling to within 17-12 midway through the third quarter on quarterback Octavio Renteria’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Galiardo.
Domer returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards for a game-clinching seven-play, 49-yard touchdown drive that culminated in Butkus’ 7-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Villa. Butkus completed the impressive sequence by throwing a 2-point conversion to Gasser for a 25-12 lead.
Mount Carmel wore down the Shamrocks in the second half.
“We wanted to possess the ball and keep the clock running, and that’s why we didn’t throw very much in the second half,” Lenti said.
Senior running back Draco Smith overcame his sluggish start to pound the interior of the Shamrocks’ line. He gained 92 of his 101 yards in the second half.