Breaking It Down: Neuqua Valley wasted no time making a statement against Mount Carmel as Mikey Dudek took the opening kickoff 97 yards to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats defense was ready for the option and able to force the Caravan to turn the ball over on downs twice in the first quarter; one of which was inside the 5.
Caravan quarterback Don Butkus connected with receiver Jason Gasser for an 8-yard score to tie the game at 7. Neuqua struck again with Dudek scoring his second touchdown on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Dylan Andrew. The Caravan, with less than two minutes left, marched 80 yards down the field and tied the game at 14 with a 24-yard strike to Gasser, his second of the game.
After a back-and-forth third quarter with both sides committing turnovers in enemy territory, the Caravan took the lead for the first time early in the fourth with a 13-yard pass to Gasser.
Down 26-14, the Wildcats scored on a 32-yard catch by Reggie Ervin, who was able to grab a jump ball that had been tipped near the endzone to make it a 26-21 game with 32 seconds left. On the ensuing onside kick, the Caravan were able to down the ball on a very close play, ending Neuqua's season.
Patch’s MVP: Jason Gasser, Mount Carmel. He had six receptions for 68 yards and three of the four Caravan touchdowns on the evening.
Mount Carmel Stat Pack: Running back Matt Domer had 23 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown. Draco Smith had 22 carries for 82 yards and was crucial in burning precious minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter.
Neuqua Valley Stat Pack: Mikey Dudek had five receptions for 73 yards to go with his 97-yard kickoff return. Running back Joey Rhattigan had 20 carries for 76 yards and two receptions for 54 yards.
Quotable I: Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus: “We fell a bit short tonight, but I’m proud of my kids and they did a great job battling all night.”
Quotable II: Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti: “Our offense did a terrific job all night of keeping their offense off the field, and they made some great plays.”
Quotable III: Mount Carmel WR Jason Gasser on the slow start: “It’s a big momentum change for sure, but we’ve been down before. We knew what he had to do on offense.”
What’s Next: Neuqua Valley’s season is over at 12-1. Mount Carmel (12-1) will play Glenbard North at 7 p.m. Nov. 24 in the 8A State Championship at Memorial Stadium in Champaign-Urbana.
Scores of Interest: Glenbard North defeated Loyola Academy 27-24 in the other 8A semifinal. In 7A seminfinal games, Lincoln-Way East defeated Benet Academy 37-13 and Glenbard West defeated Lake Zurich 19-13. For more scores, go to IHSA scorezeone.