Mount Carmel back Jason Gasser avoids the tackle of Brother Rice's James Gannon. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:38AM
Three Southland Class 8A football teams with higher seeds — Marist, Homewood-Flossmoor and Sandburg —suffered first-round setbacks against lower seeds Friday night.
Mount Carmel was determined to break that trend.
But it took a while. After mustering just eight yards of offense in its first 25 plays of the game and trailing 9-7 early in the third quarter, the third-seeded Caravan recovered to score 23 unanswered second-half points in a 30-9 victory over 14th-seeded Brother Rice on Saturday morning at Gately Stadium.
The Caravan (9-1) will host Simeon (8-1) in the second round.
Mount Carmel had beaten Brother Rice 56-7 in Catholic League Blue competition during Week 5.
“We told our kids they were going to come out and give us their best punch,” Caravan coach Frank Lenti said. “That’s exactly what they did. They started fast and we didn’t.”
Quarterback Don Butkus found receiver Jason Gasser for a 24-yard TD strike, and a 58-yard connection that helped lead to another score to turn the 9-7 halftime deficit into a 23-9 advantage after three.
“We may have been too tense in the first half and settled down in the second half,” Gasser said. “Coach Frank was a little mad at us at halftime and got into us and we got fired up.”
The Caravan racked up more than 410 yards in the first meeting but settled for 195 this time. Butkus was 3-for-9 for 97 yards and running back Matt Domer had 15 carries for 75 yards.
Brother Rice, which had lost 10 straight to the Caravan, scored on its first possession on quarterback Matt Page’s 1-yard keeper. Butkus had a 1-yard plunge of his own with 9:54 left in the half. Rice scored a safety with 1:59 left in the half when Mount Carmel punter Joe Pavlik was tackled in the end zone.
In the third quarter, Pavlik kept a scoring drive going by running for a first down after a fake punt.
Trailing 15-9 with 6:04 left in the third quarter, Page hit Marcus Jones with what looked like a 25-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-12 play to put the Crusaders back ahead but it was called back because of a holding penalty. That gave the Caravan momentum.
Page was 15-of-26 for 154 yards for Brother Rice (5-5) and Brendan McGinley caught six passes for 55 yards. Jones, a sophomore, ran for 93 yards on 17 carries.
“We expected to win the football game and left some opportunities out there,” Crusaders coach Brian Badke said. “The kids played well, but we didn’t finish.”