WESTERN SPRINGS | Lyons Township never knew what hit them.
The Lions were run over by a Caravan.
Spotting their hosts a field-goal lead late in the second quarter, Mount Carmel scored 38 unanswered points en route to a 45-10 victory over Lyons Township in their Class 8A quarterfinal game.
The critical point was the outset of the second half. The score was tied when Mount Carmel's Ivan Strmic kicked off into a stiff south wind. Lyons' Jamari Burks tracked down the kick, but promptly lost it. The Caravan's Jimmy Mickens fell on it at the Lyons 7, and two snaps later, Matt Domer ran it in from the Lions' 2.
Only 56 seconds of the third quarter had been played, but another shocker was to come. Strmic kicked off again. Again the wind played tricks with the ball. This time Burks couldn't get a grip on the ball. Mount Carmel's Christian Searles slapped it to keep it in bounds, and teammate Justin Sanchez fell on it at the 12.
Don Butkus needed only one snap this time. Domer blew through the line and was gone for his second touchdown in 11 seconds. The Caravan would score on five straight possessions, one against the wind that took 7:31 off the clock.
"We knew we hadn't come out the way we wanted to in the first half," Sanchez said. "We started slow, but if we kept playing, things were going to work out."
They did for the sixth straight Caravan victory.
Mount Carmel (11-1) plays Neuqua Valley (12-0), a come-from-behind winner over Waubonsie Valley, in one of next week's semifinal games. Loyola Academy (11-1) will play Glenbard North (11-1) in the other semifinal. Glenbard North stunned unbeaten Maine South, 29-23, in its quarterfinal game.
"We'll look at a little film tonight, but let the kids relax," Caravan head coach Frank Lenti said. "These kind of games really take a lot out of you."
Only a break allowed Mount Carmel to forge a 10-10 halftime tie. Usually dependable Lyons punter Luke Nelson shanked a punt in the final minute of the half, giving the Caravan the ball on the Lyons 38. Butkus hit Jason Gasser for 8 yards on first down, but there the ball stalled, and Strmic came in to kick a 47-yard field goal with 7.4 seconds left in the half to the game.
"We just had to get into a rhythm on offense," Lenti said. "I told the kids at halftime we needed to create a couple of turnovers. I certainly didn't think it was going to happen the way it did, but we were good enough to take advantage."