Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game

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Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
11:01 PM

By Mike Clark
YourSeason.com

Vontrell Williams has heard the whispers about a Mount Carmel program that hasn't won a state title since 2002 and hasn't played in a state championship game since 2006.

He and his Caravan teammates answered the doubters on Saturday afternoon by beating Homewood-Flossmoor 28-21 in a Class 8A semifinal at Gately Stadium.

Mount Carmel (11-2) advanced to its 14th title game in 25 seasons under coach Frank Lenti and will play Maine South (11-2) in the 8A final next Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

"We're proving Mount Carmel hasn't lost a step," said Williams, a junior defensive lineman who forced an H-F fumble in the closing seconds to help seal the win. "Like coach Frank Lenti always says, 'It's not our job to drop the tradition, it's our job to enhance the tradition."

The Caravan did that by limiting the damage done by H-F running back Malik Norman, who had rushed for 1,987 yards and 31 touchdowns before Saturday. He finished with 47 yards and one TD on 23 carries.

"Malik is a great back," said Mount Carmel's Michael Banks, a youth football teammate of Norman. "We've done a pretty good job on the run all year. If we wanted to win, we were going to have to contain Malik. Thank God we did it."

Banks ran for a game-high 112 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner on a one-yard plunge with 5:06 left.

"I heard coach Dave Lenti, Mount Carmel's defensive coordinator say on the sidelines, 'This drive is the game' and it really was," Banks said. "If we didn't score on that drive, who knows what would have happened?"

H-F's next possession ended with Derrick Bryant's sack of H-F quarterback Tim Williams on fourth down with 2:32 left. The Vikings (10-3) got the ball back on a fumble recovery with 1:42 remaining, but Williams forced a Williams fumble two plays later and Bryant recovered. The Caravan then ran out the clock.

"The defense played great today when it had to," Frank Lenti said, "The offense played just well enough to win when it had to."

Chris Sujka (17 carries, 51 yards) ran 13 yards for Mount Carmel's first touchdown with 7:10 left in the first quarter. But H-F's Arnold Duncan ran the kickoff back 95 yards for a 7-7 tie.

Banks' 49-yard touchdown dash down the right sideline put the Caravan back ahead 14-7 with 5:06 left in the first. Sujka's one-yard sneak pushed Mount Carmel's lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.

H-F tied it with two third-quarter touchdowns. Norman had a nine-yard scoring run out of the Wildcat formation and Williams (14 of 20, 181 yards) hit Sean Jones with a 29-yard TD pass.

"We knew they were going to try to stop No. 5 Norman," H-F coach Craig Buzea said. "We had other options. Tim hasn't thrown for 2,000 yards for nothing. ... Basically, we came up one play short."

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.