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High School Football: Blocked kick, scoop-and-score lift Caravan

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

J.T. Harris knew he had just made a huge play for Mount Carmel in the final minute of Friday night’s season-opener against St. Rita.

The senior defensive back just didn’t know it was part of a game-winning play.

Harris blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt by Mustangs kicker Conor Talty. Caravan junior Jaden Bossie scooped it up and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown with 35 seconds left to lift the Caravan to a 16-9 win over the host Mustangs in a season-opening CCL/ESCC crossover.

Harris thought the rules did not allow a blocked kick to be advanced and thought the ball would be spotted where Bossie recovered it. It wasn’t until after the Caravan was celebrating the touchdown that he realized what had just happened.

“I blocked it and I was like, ‘Let’s go,’” Harris said. “I looked up and I didn’t think he could return it, but he was going for a touchdown.”

As a senior on a Mount Carmel team that is relying heavily on underclassmen at many key spots, Harris said it felt amazing to step up for his team at the biggest moment.

“It means everything,” he said. “We had so many doubters coming in. We just had to prove ourselves. The seniors have to lead.”

Bossie, meanwhile, had the composure to come with the loose ball and race to the end zone for the Caravan (1-0), fighting some cramps along the way on a hot night.

“Everything that happened, we work on in practice,” Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. “Scoop and score, we work on that every Thursday. For them to keep their composure and actually do it, that was awesome.”

Mount Carmel took a 6-0 lead with 10:32 left in the first half on a 14-yard touchdown run by quarterback Blainey Dowling. Dowling and Damarion Arrington split time under center, with Arrington running for 66 yards on 13 carries.

The Caravan stretched the lead to 9-0 on a 34-yard field goal from Louie Chappetto with 8:55 left in the game.

St. Rita (0-1) lost star running back/receiver Kaleb Brown, an Ohio State recruit, to a first-quarter injury when he went up for a pass and took a hard hit. Brown did not return.

The Mustangs were shut out for three quarters — aside from a safety that Mount Carmel appeared to take intentionally rather than punting out of the end zone — and trailed 9-2 until Tommy Ulatowski hit BJ Hall for a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie it with 6:44 to go in the game.

Behind some big runs from Kyle Clayton, who finished with 108 yards on 23 carries, St. Rita marched down the field in the final two minutes and appeared set up for the game-winning kick before Mount Carmel’s special teams heroics.

“We were running the ball and having success and we were confident in our run game,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We figure if we get down there, we’re in great shape with our kicking game. But it didn’t work out and now we just have to get back to work.

“You could say it was an ugly game on both sides. Both of us did good things and both of us did bad things. They just did one better thing in the end than we did.”

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