Joliet Catholic survives Carmel in overtime
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org October 6, 2012 12:48AM
Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac breaks through the line against Carmel on Friday. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Player OF THE GAME
Joliet Catholic quarterback Craig Slowik completed 7-of-11 passes for 146 yards and ran 25 yards for a TD with 3:34 left in regulation.
Updated: November 8, 2012 11:51AM
Joliet Catholic quarterback Craig Slowik does not mind going to overtime if that’s what it takes to win in front of the home crowd.
But it can be hard on a kid’s nerves.
“Oh, man, it’s nice to win, but the stress is terrible. And I’m only 16 — or 17, or whatever I am,” Slowik said Friday night after the Hilltoppers escaped Carmel 31-24 at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium in what year after year is an East Suburban Catholic Conference barn-burner.
Joliet Catholic’s previous home game, three weeks ago, was a 34-33 overtime victory over Nazareth. This one was not any easier, but it did send the Hilltoppers (5-2, 4-1) into the state playoffs while eliminating the Corsairs (2-5, 2-3).
“Andy (Bitto, the Carmel coach) has a great football team,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said. “They belong in the playoffs, and they would be going if it weren’t for their schedule.”
Joliet Catholic was without injured wingback Tyler Reitz, and wingback Ty Isaac and fullback Michael Ivlow were hobbling. Add what Carmel was bringing defensively and its veer-option offense, and the Hilltoppers knew they were in for the fight of their lives.
A rash of turnovers early on suggested this one would not be easy on a weak ticker. It wasn’t.
Carmel marched 91 yards in 12 plays to go ahead 17-16 early in the fourth quarter. But two possessions later, Joliet Catholic journeyed 50 yards in four plays to regain the lead, the touchdown scoring at the 3:34 mark on a 25-yard bootleg by Slowik, who is not known for his wheels. Isaac (31 carries, 229 yards, 3 touchdowns) willed his way into the end zone for the 2-point conversion and a 24-17 lead.
But the Corsairs were playing for their playoff lives and looked the part. They marched 72 yards in seven plays, with Tim Serio (13 carries, 145 yards), the pitch man in the veer option, ripping off huge gains. Quarterback Nick Grandolfo scored from a yard out with 30 seconds left to make it 24-23.
Bitto said he considered going for two points but instead sent in kicker Steve O’Block to tie it. That was only part of the plan. Next came an onside kick that bounced off a Hilltopper and was recovered by Carmel’s Derrick McLean at the 40.
Serio gained 21 yards to the 19, but Grandolfo lost back to the 24 after not getting a good handle on the snap. O’Block, who boomed a 41-yard field goal in the first half, was called on again from 41 but his attempt was wide right, forcing the overtime.
“I thought we’d take a chance on the onside kick, and it worked,” Bitto said. “We should have won. The game unfolded the way we wanted. But they’re a great team.”
Joliet Catholic had the ball first in overtime and Isaac scored from the 5 on second down. Brian Bravo, who earlier booted a 27-yard field goal, converted for a 31-24 lead.
Serio appeared to score on first down for Carmel, but a block in the back put the ball back at the 20. Danny Weis made a tackle for a five-yard loss to the 19, Grandolfo recovered his own fumble at the 24 on third down and safety Zack Jackovich intercepted Grandolfo at the goal line to end it.
Josh Walinski rushed 27 times for 164 yards for the Corsairs, who had 298 on the ground and 320 total. Slowik was 7-of-11 passing for 146 yards and Joliet Catholic rushed for 263 for 404 total.