Marian Shut Down By Carmel in ESCC First-Place Showdown

Mike Wheeler
Spartan Dominic Pascale prepares to run a route on Friday during the host Spartans’ 24-0 setback to Carmel in a battle of ESCC unbeatens. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Talk about a bad combination for Marian Catholic on Friday night.

The host Spartans had an average starting field position of their own 28-yard line.

Marian compounded that by managing just 2 yards per offensive snap.

While the Marian defense proved stingy early, visiting Carmel kept its record unblemished by eventually wearing down the Spartans in a 24-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference decision.

"We played really well in the first half," assessed Spartan defensive back David Sowell after Marian went to the locker room with just a 7-0 halftime deficit. "We had some three-and-outs and played pretty well."

Sowell tried to ignite the Spartans when he pounced on a Carmel fumble on the Corsairs’ first possession.

At that point, prospects looked bright for Marian.

First-down runs by Jeruel Taylor and Trevor Woolfolk moved the Spartans into Carmel territory at the 48-yard line. A haul by Taylor got Marian to the Carmel 42, but set back by a procedure penalty, Marian eventually punted the ball away.

"I was trying and hoping to rally the troops," Sowell explained. "But the offense couldn’t help us out much and we eventually let things slip away."

Marian would get closer than the Carmel 42-yard line only one time the remainder of the contest.

The Spartans managed only four first downs, had 10 plays go for negative yardage and had only one play all night carry for more than 11 yards. In 44 snaps for the night, Marian managed just 88 yards of total offense.

Taylor accounted for most of that, carrying 10 times for 56 yards.

While the Corsairs improved to 7-0 and 5-0, Marian (5-2, 3-1) saw its five-game winning streak snapped.

Against a squad averaging more than 40 points per game, Marian held Carmel until a 26-yard touchdown pass on its fourth possession of the night for a 7-0 command.

With Sowell and defensive back mates Tony Alozie, Jason Martinez and Wes Fleming providing strong support, the explosive Corsairs were forced to punt three times in the opening half.

Despite four straight three-and-outs, Marian appeared to catch a huge break at the conclusion of the first half. One of few standouts on the night, Marian punter Jabari Danzy booted from his own 37-yard line with less than a minute to play in the half. When the ball was muffed, Tony Alozie pounced on the ball to give Marian possession at the Carmel 30-yard line with 41 seconds to play in the half.

An incomplete pass and two Spartan penalties moved the ball back near midfield, but Taylor busted off a 15-yard run (Marian’s longest play of the night) to get the ball to the 36-yard line. From there, Danzy tried what would be a school-record 53-yard field goal.

His leg was true and in the center of the uprights, but the ball hit the crossbar and bounded back into the field of play for a near-miss.

Nevertheless, the Spartans were in the contest with just a 7-0 deficit at halftime.

However, Carmel scored on two of its first three possessions of the second half.

A 32-yard field goal by Steven O’Block and a 1-yard touchdown run by Michael Panico gave the visitors a 17-0 command with 0:48 to play in the third quarter.

Carmel added a clinching score midway through the fourth quarter on a Panico 49-yard scoring run.

Marian’s lone two first downs of the second half came on pass plays, as John Rhode hooked up with Dominic Pascale for a 10-yarder and Randall Wells (two catches, 20 yards) on an 11-yarder.

Although a sack by Jack Ziltz forced Carmel to settle for the field goal on its initial possession of the second half, the    Corsairs eventually wore down a tired Marian defense. While Marian had just 44 offensive snaps, Carmel rushed 44 times for 279 yards on the ground.

Marian will try to pick up the pieces next Saturday when it visits Nazareth for a 1:30 p.m. start.   

"We’ll just look forward to next week," Sowell concluded. "We’ll work even harder in practice and look to go into the playoffs by ending on a strong note the next couple weeks."

SOPHOMORES: The Spartans fell to the Corsairs, 21-6.