2022 Class 7A football state final recap: Mt. Carmel surges ahead early, claims crown | Sports

Mt. Carmel 44, Batavia 20

The game MVP is … senior quarterback Blainey Dowling. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound standout set the game’s tone early, when he and senior receiver Jaden Bossie connected on a 28-yard pass during Mt. Carmel’s third play from scrimmage. Dowling didn’t need to constantly bomb the ball downfield or thread multiple defenders. He often completed short passes to his right or left and allowed receivers and those blocking for them to display their talents. But Dowling also wasn’t rattled in the pocket and continually found his guys all over the Zuppke Field turf. He finished 25 of 40 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns — all four of those scores occurring in the first half, when the Caravan jumped ahead 28-0. Dowling hit seven different teammates with at least one pass apiece, led by seniors Jimmy Deacy (seven receptions, 86 yards, two touchdowns) and Dennis Furlong (seven receptions, 47 yards).

The Caravan is the champion because … it put its foot on the gas right away and let off on very few occasions the rest of the night. Dowling and Deacy hooked up for Mt. Carmel’s first touchdown fewer than three minutes into the contest, and the two again met up on a scoring throw with more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Caravan forced Batavia to fumble the kickoff after that second touchdown before Dowling found senior Damarion Arrington on another scoring play late in the first quarter. Mt. Carmel’s offense and defense both did enough the rest of the way to ensure the Bulldogs’ three touchdowns — a throw from junior Ryan Boe to junior C.J. Valente plus runs by senior Ryan Whitwell and junior Charlie Whelpley — didn’t hurt nearly as much.

The Caravan will be remembered for … finishing an unbeaten slate that included a regular-season victory over Class 8A state finalist Loyola Academy and two wins versus Class 7A state semifinalist Chicago St. Rita. Many of Mt. Carmel’s talented athletes got to show off Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, but one of the most memorable moments occurred early in the fourth quarter. The Caravan pulled off a fake punt play in which sophomore quarterback Jack Elliott whistled a throw to Arrington that the latter player hustled 60 yards to the end zone.

Postgame spread: “These are my guys. This is the first class I had. It’s a special group for me, man. It was a great performance.” — Mt. Carmel coach Jordan Lynch, who also led the Caravan to a state championship in 2019

“Winning state at Carmel is a big deal. They were saying in the week (leading up), ‘The club.’ Now that you’re in the club, it’s a great feeling.” — Dowling

“Just shows we’ve all got heart. That’s just something that’s built in the offseason, grinding throughout the season. I think it’s been obvious since the start: We do not quit. … We care about each other. We’re going to go fighting for each other till we die. That’s the mentality we have.” — Batavia senior linebacker Tyler Jansey on the Bulldogs’ effort after falling behind 28-0

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

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