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Mount Carmel tested in win over Brother Rice

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By Steve Millar 
Correspondent

After Mount Carmel beat each of its first five opponents by 24 points or more, senior quarterback Blainey Dowling thinks it is good the Caravan had to fight to the end against an upset-minded Brother Rice team.

Dowling ran for the game-winning 15-yard touchdown with 1:58 left to lift Mount Carmel to a 28-21 win over the host Crusaders in a CCL-ESCC Blue game Sept. 30.

“I’m glad this was a close game,” Dowling said. “We needed that. I wouldn’t say our heads were getting too big, but we needed this for sure after pretty much blowing everybody out.

“Rice put up a good fight. At end, it came down to Carmel guys vs. Rice guys, and I thought we dealt with adversity pretty well and battled back.”

Dowling finished 22-of-34 for 321 yards and two touchdowns for Mount Carmel (6-0, 2-0). Denny Furlong was his favorite target, pulling in nine catches for 138 yards, including a 35-yard TD.

Dowling’s biggest play came on the game-winning run as he continued to show off his multi-dimensional game.

“Last year, I don’t even know what I’d call myself: a running or throwing quarterback,” Dowling said. “This year: being a dual threat. Coach (Jordan) Lynch gets me comfortable throughout the week. We watch film. He gets me familiar with what the defense is going to do and that makes it so much easier.”

Brother Rice (3-3, 0-2) seems to have found its own dual-threat quarterback.

Junior Marcus Brown, making his first start under center, ran 18 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns and finished 5-of-7 passing for 138 yards and a TD.

Brown left in the third quarter with an injury.

Crusaders coach Casey Quedenfeld said he went with Brown over Ryan Hartz, who started the first five weeks, because of Brown’s athleticism.

“It was more about we wanted a little bit more movement from the position,” Quedenfeld said. “It had nothing to do with Ryan’s performance. Ryan had a really good performance in the previous week and a good week of practice.

“It was more about whenever you’re scouting film and you’re seeing a team with such great athletes as Mount Carmel has, we have to give our team the best chance to win, and we felt like that was [Brown].”

Brown ran for a pair of 4-yard TDs in the first half to give Brother Rice a 14-7 lead.

Dowling connected with Darrion Gilliam on a 17-yard TD pass with 44 seconds left in the first half to tie the game, then hit Furlong for a 35-yard TD early in the third quarter to put the Caravan in front for the first time.

The Crusaders answered on a 52-yard TD pass from Brown to Owen Lyons to tie the game at 21 midway through the third.

“We let Marcus know that he doesn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary,” Quedenfeld said. “We’re going to try put him in positions to be successful using his tools. We really designed things to get him on the move.”

The Crusaders had an opportunity to tie the game, but the Caravan had the final answer.

After Dowling’s TD run, Hartz led Rice to the Mount Carmel 27-yard line, but Tavon Rice and Daniel Banks made sure the Crusaders would get no closer. Each produced a sack, Banks’ coming on fourth down and sealing the victory.

Mount Carmel survived and kept alive its hopes for an unbeaten season.

The Caravan also got some revenge for two losses to Brother Rice last season, including a season-ending 41-28 defeat in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

“That was our motivation the whole offseason,” Dowling said. “Remember that taste from them storming the field against us last year. We played hard, we played physical and you saw the outcome.”

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