Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game


Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
11:01 PM

By Mike Clark

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."

Morning Update: Cubs tie up World Series with Game 2 win; Bulls begin season against Celtics

Morning Update: Cubs tie up World Series with Game 2 win; Bulls begin season against Celtics

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Cubs offense settling into World Series groove

Cubs offense settling into World Series groove

CLEVELAND - It doesn't take long for the 2016 Cubs to rebound.

Their American League-style lineup is just simply too talented to keep down for an extended period of time, especially with Kyle Schwarber now added back into the fold.

They Cubs hitters are so confident, they even left Progressive Field feeling good about themselves despite being shut out in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Cubs got on the board early Wednesday night, plating a run on the third batter of the game as Anthony Rizzo doubled home Kris Bryant.

"Take the momentum away. Take the crowd out of it," Bryant said. "It's nice to score first. Especially when you're the visiting team, to get out there and score within the first three batters is huge."

The early lead helped the lineup settle in and keep their foot on the gas for a 5-1 victory to take the series back to Wrigley Field tied one game apiece.

"Especially with a young lineup, I think when you see a few guys go up there and take some good quality at-bats, one happens after the other and the other guys seem to do the same thing," Ben Zobrist said. "It takes a lot of pressure off. When you see other guys having good, quality at-bats, you don't feel like you have to take pitches and you can be aggressive early on. 

"Oftentimes when you're aggressive in the zone is when you take the tough ones. We did a good job tonight laying off some good pitches. When they made mistakes in the zone, we really hit the ball hard. Even though we scored five runs, obviously we had a lot of baserunners on and we could've scored a lot more."

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Zobrist has a point.

The night after leaving nine runners on base and going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Cubs left 13 runners on base and tallied just three hits in 12 tries with runners in scoring position.

Between nine hits and eight walks, there were Cubs on base all game. Indians pitchers didn't retire Cubs hitters in order in an inning until the seventh.

The Cubs also forced the Indians to throw 196 pitches in nine innings and worked starter Trevor Bauer to 51 pitches through the first two frames.

"That was good for us," Bryant said. "We saw a lot of their bullpen, so we have a lot of information to learn from and hopefully use in the next game."

Anthony Rizzo summed up the lineup's mentality simply:

"Grind out at-bats, work the pitcher's pitch count up and get the next guy up," he said.

That "pass the baton" mentality is what drives this offense and after a brief lull in that regard in Los Angeles when they were shut out in back-to-back games in the NLCS, the Cubs leave Cleveland feeling pretty good.

"When we're able to [get pitch counts up], you can kinda feel it - our offense really feeds off of that," Zobrist said. "We believe that we're going to break through eventually."