Football: Mount Carmel almost knocks off national power Philadelphia St. Joseph
By Mike Clark firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @MikeClarkPreps August 31, 2014 8:28PM
Mount Carmel's Avery Saffold (2) is pushed out of bounds by St. Joseph's Benny Walls (22) during the Preseason Kickoff Classic between Mount Carmel and Philadelphia Saint Joseph on Aug. 31, 2014. | Geoff Scheerer/Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 1, 2014 2:12AM
Some losses hurt more than others, and Mount Carmel was not feeling an awful lot of pain after taking one Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park.
The Caravan fell 28-27 to Philadelphia St. Joseph in the opener of the High School Football Classic tripleheader and came away with a glass half-full attitude.
There were several reasons: St. Joe is ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps, was less rusty after playing a pair of scrimmages and has three big-time recruits.
Plus, the Caravan offense looked sharp despite having to replace 10 starters from last year’s Class 7A state champs. And Mount Carmel was a missed PAT away from going to overtime.
“A lot of people thought we (were) just going to get blown out by this team,” senior Jaquan Buntyn said. “But we played hard and had a great game.”
“They could have just as easily kicked our fanny,” Caravan coach Frank Lenti said. “I thought our kids, overall, did a great job.
“We tell them every game hinges on a handful of plays. We allowed (St. Joseph) to make some more big plays not being in a proper position. We missed some great opportunities in the kicking game. ... I thought our offense did reasonably well.”
“We just came out and dominated the defensive line and all the linebackers,” said senior guard Jack White, the only returning offensive starter.
He and the other linemen — tackles Devon Hickman and Andrejas Deurig, center Marcus Van Arkel and guard Matthew McKay — paved the way for a pair of 100-yard rushers in Buntyn (22 carries, 139 yards) and A.J. Lewis (18 carries, 130 yards).
“Anthony (Thompson, Mount Carmel’s quarterback), it’s his first varsity start,” Lenti said. “He made a few mistakes running the option, but he’ll get better at that. The more confident he becomes, the more productive we’re going to be.”
Thompson’s one-yard sneak with 1:45 left in the first quarter tied the score 7-7. Three-star Virginia recruit Olamide Zaccheaus had put St. Joseph ahead with a 37-yard scoring run at 9:05 of the first.
Buntyn’s one-yard touchdown run put the Caravan up 14-7 two minutes before halftime, but Zaccheaus caught a 50-yard TD pass from Jack Clements on the next offensive play. Marquise Peggs blocked the PAT kick to keep Mount Carmel up 14-13 at the break.
St. Joe got two scores in the second half from its four-star defensive back/wide receiver, Penn State-bound John Reid. He turned a screen from Clements into a 59-yard score at 6:02 of the third quarter and caught a pass that deflected off a teammate for a 23-yard TD catch with 6:35 to go in the game.
The Caravan countered with another one-yard scoring run by Buntyn at 10:05 of the fourth and a five-yard touchdown carry by Buntyn with 2:23 remaining. But Zac Mirabelli’s PAT kick after the last touchdown was wide left, preserving St. Joe’s lead.
Earlier, Mirabelli had missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt into the wind on the last play of the first half.
Mount Carmel got the ball back one more time, but turned the ball over on downs with 27 seconds left and St. Joe ran out the clock.
“It’s a loss and it hurts, but it was a great learning experience,” Lenti said. “We’ve just got to get better all the way around. We score another touchdown and we don’t even have to worry about the field goal and the extra point.”