CHICAGO | It took Times No. 1 Mt. Carmel two minutes and 39 seconds to put Friday night’s class 7A opening round playoff game against Benet Academy out of reach.
That was exactly how long it took Christian Searles to score three touchdowns and get the Caravan (9-1) out to a 21-0 lead that they would see grow to 42 before the Redwings could even manage to get a first down late in the second quarter.
Coming into the game, all eyes were on the return of Illinois recruit and starting running back Matt Domer, but by the midway point of the first quarter the story was Searles.
Searles got the scoring started with a 17-yard touchdown reception from Marko Boricich on a fourth-and-one capping off a 75-yard opening drive.
Three plays later it was Searles again picking off a Jack Beneventi pass and taking it back 30 yards for his second score.
“People think Christian’s not a Division One caliber player,” Mt. Carmel Coach Frank Lenti said. “He’s not just an athlete playing football; he’s a football player that’s a great athlete.”
On the Caravans next drive, Boricich found Searles for his third score, a 37-yard touchdown and the rout was on. When the smoke finally cleared at the end of the first quarter the Caravan had a 28-point lead.
“Touchdowns don’t come that often so they were all great,” Searles said. “But that pick six was the best. We started fast tonight and didn’t let them hang around.”
Domer didn’t disappoint in his return either carrying 13 times for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns including a 22-yarder to put the Caravan up 28-0.
“It’s amazing to be back with my boys again,” Domer said. “The knee felt great, it has for a couple weeks but the coaches wanted to be safe. This is my life right here so after having it taken away for a few weeks I feel born again.”
As well as the offense played, the defense was the story of the game in the first half holding the Redwings (6-4) to 41 yards of total offense and only three first downs.
Benet did manage to get on the board in the third quarter when Beneventi hit Brad Sznajder on a 47-yard touchdown, but that’s all the Caravan defense would allow.
For the game, Mt. Carmel held the Redwings to 126 yards of total offense including minus 44 yards rushing.
“Our defensive coaches had a great game plan and the defense executed,” Lenti said. “The defense played great. It’s easy to score like that when you’re playing on a short field all night.”