Hurricanes need 2 wins to avoid missing playoffs for 1st time since 2008
WOODSTOCK – Marian Central and Carmel have a history of playing close, hard-fought games.
This year’s meeting had all the makings of another down-to-the-wire finish through three quarters before Carmel used two scores in the fourth quarter to seal up a 31-13 East Suburban Catholic Conference win.
In a game that started Friday night but was suspended at halftime due to lightning, Carmel (3-4, 3-2) made the first big play of the game, returning the opening kickoff to Marian's 2-yard line. That set up Syone Usma-Harper’s touchdown run to give the Corsairs the early 7-0 lead.
Marian (3-4, 1-4) answered back later in the first quarter as quarterback Patsy Ricciardi connected with Dante Ricciardi on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Carmel’s Benjamin Packer made it 10-7 right before the half with a 23-yard field goal. Then, the lightning and heavy rain moved in.
“We would have preferred to finish the game last night, but we understood,” Marian senior Bryce Radcliffe said. “We still had one focus, and we tried to bring that today, just as we did last night.”
More than 17 hours after the first half had ended, Carmel made the first big play of the third quarter Saturday.
Facing fourth-and-long, Packer ran 21 yards on a fake punt to keep the drive alive, moving deep into Hurricanes' territory. Three plays later, Carmel quarterback Avery Bujaj ran for a 7-yard touchdown.
Marian’s offense, on the other hand, had trouble gaining traction in the second half, literally and figuratively.
The Hurricanes punted twice and fumbled once in the third quarter. After rushing for 135 yards in the first half, Marian managed only 35 yards on the ground in the second half on the rain-soaked George Harding Field.
“We didn’t click," Marian coach Mike Maloney said. "It comes down to execution, and today we couldn’t do it.”
In the fourth quarter, Carmel’s Harper scored two more 5-yard touchdowns to extend the lead to 31-7.
“Hard fought by both the offense and defense, we just came up short, but we played hard,” Marian’s Harrison Stanko said. “Big plays ruined us, if we didn’t give up those big plays, it would have been very different.”
Marian had more rushing (170 to 142) and passing yards (175 to 147) than Carmel.
The loss puts the Hurricanes at serious risk of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008. Marian must win back-to-back road games against Marist (6-1, 5-0) and St. Viator (0-7, 0-5).
“It’s how it’s always been for Marian football, we’re used to having our back against the wall, it’s not what we want, but that’s what it is,” said Radcliffe, who finished the game with six catches for 132 yards.
His coach agreed.
“For the seniors, I am really proud of their journey here, and I am going to do everything in my power that they go out on top,” Maloney said.
STAR OF THE GAME
Marian Central, sr., WR
Radcliffe had six catches for 132 yards, including receptions of 37 and 43 yards.
Carmel 7 3 7 14 – 31
Marian Central 7 0 0 6 – 13
C – Usma-Harper 2 run (Packer kick), 11:11
MC – D. Ricciardi 15 pass from P. Ricciardi (Menner kick), 5:17
C – Packer 23 field goal, :02
C – Bugaj 7 run (Packer kick), 3:10
C – Usma-Harper 5 run (Packer kick), 6:54
C – Usma-Harper 5 run (Packer kick), 5:30
MC – Liedig 2 run (PAT no good), :45