Friday, Nov. 5, 2010
By Mike Clark
Mount Carmel mixed things up a little offensively late in Friday's game against Neuqua Valley, running a sweep here and throwing a pass there.
But when the Caravan had to have a score to keep another playoff run alive, it went back to its go-to play for more than two decades: the option.
Quarterback Chris Sujka scored with 71 seconds left in regulation to help send the game into overtime, and Michael Banks ran 10 yards for the decisive score in OT as Mount Carmel 21-14 in Class 8A second-round action in Naperville.
The No. 18 Caravan (9-2) earned its 22nd quarterfinal berth in 25 seasons and will host Lyons next weekend. Neuqua Valley, seeking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, finished 7-4.
Mount Carmel scored on its final two plays from scrimmage after being shut out for more than 39 minutes following Sujka's 70-yard scoring dash down the left sideline with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
"We knew our stuff would work," Sujka said. "We just weren't executing it. We were beating ourselves most of our drives with either penalties or missed assignments."
Neuqua Valley took a 14-7 lead when TJ Rhattigan powered over from less than a yard out on fourth down with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats had a chance to increase their lead, but kicker Ryan Mulhern missed a 35-yard field goal try with 6:15 left. He also missed from 26 yards in the second quarter and Mount Carmel kicker Nikko Rodriguez missed a 33-yarder in the second period.
After the second missed field goal, Mount Carmel went 80 yards in 12 plays for the tying score, converting two third-down plays and getting a 30-yard run from Brandon Greer to the Neuqua four-yard line.
Neuqua couldn't score on its final possession of regulation and Banks took advantage of a good block by wide receiver Frank Kelly to score on the Caravan's first play in overtime. Two runs and pass left Neuqua with a fourth-and-goal from the 10 and Wildcats quarterback Jeff Samuel's incompletion set off a wild celebration on the Mount Carmel sideline.
"They did a nice job," Caravan coach Frank Lenti said of the Wildcats. "It wasn't so much what they were doing, but what we weren't doing. We weren't executing on offense. We were stopping ourselves with foolish penalties."
Banks ran 20 times for 115 yards for Mount Carmel. Sujka had 12 carries for 96 yards and was 4-of-5 passing for 51 yards.
Trent Snyder scored Neuqua Valley's first touchdown on a one-yard run with 6:07 left in the first quarter. He finished with 31 carries for 109 yards.