EDWARDSVILLE | Mount Carmel probably could have let Edwardsville know it was going to run the ball on every play and it still wouldn't have mattered.
Saturday, in the Class 7A football semifinals, visiting Mount Carmel ran the ball on all 48 offensive plays, scored on five of them and rolled to a 34-7 victory against the Tigers.
"We played our style of football," Caravan senior running back Matt Domer said. "It's basic. We want to pound the ball and tonight we executed well. We felt we didn't have a good performance last week, so we wanted to make sure we did this week."
Domer carried the ball 22 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns, starting with the first time he touched the ball. Senior Jimmy Mickens ran 16 times for 68 yards and one touchdown. Junior Jaquan Buntyn had three carries for 7 yards and scored the Caravan's final touchdown with 26 seconds left in the game. The Caravan finished with 274 rushing yards.
Mount Carmel (12-1), the defending Class 8A state champions, advances to the 7A state championship game Saturday against Lake Zurich. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Northern Illinois University.
Edwardsville (12-1) saw its dream season shattered fast. Junior quarterback Dan Marinko completed his first two passes to senior Isaiah Michl to earn a first down, but that was the highlight of the first half for the Tigers (12-1).
The Caravan forced a punt that was held up by the wind and gave Mount Carmel its first possession at the Edwardsville 49. Domer went up the middle untouched on the first play to put his team up 7-0 with 9:09 to go in the first quarter.
Senior Deontae Brown intercepted a Marinko pass on its next possession and returned it to the Edwardsville 32. A few plays later, it was Mickens who scored from 9 yards out with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
Mount Carmel added another first quarter score when Domer went in, again untouched, from 11 yards with 16.7 seconds left.
The rest was up to the Caravan's imposing defense.
Marinko, who passed and ran for more than a combined 300 yards in the quarterfinals, found no room to run and with the wind affecting his passing in the first and third quarters putting together a drive was especially difficult.
The Caravan defensive line and linebackers also made it tough for Marinko and the Tigers to get on track.
"We knew everything they were going to do," Caravan senior defensive tackle Steve Richardson said. "Nothing they did surprised us."
Richardson (6-0, 290) is a Minnesota commit. He was aided by junior Deandre Greer (6-0, 280) and senior Enoch Smith Jr., (6-3, 265), who is committed to Michigan State.
Linebackers Sam Connolly, Nick Johnson and junior Troy Weissenhofer, averaged 6-foot-1 and 215-pounds, and was physical and fast. It was routinely in the backfield when the Tigers tried to run the ball.
"They're a good field team," Edwardsville coach Matt Miller said. "If we want to compete at this level we have to raise the bar. We had the opportunity to see what (a state champion team) looks like. Now we have to get there."
Marinko closed out his record-setting junior year completing 14 of 38 for 135 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. The score happened with 1:33 left in the third quarter when Marinko connected with Darius Crochrell on a 1-yard touchdown pass.