Carmel downs St. Pat's for McKie's first coaching victory

Carmel Catholic and new head football coach Jason McKie had to wait an extra week for their first game of the 2021 spring season. It then took the Corsairs just under three hours to give the former Chicago Bear his first victory.

Carmel held off St. Patrick 24-21 after a furious fourth quarter in which both teams score a pair of touchdowns Saturday at Triton College in River Grove.

"It has been a long time coming," said McKie, whose team had its first game canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.

"I am so proud of my staff and my team. They worked their tails off. I don't know how many times we stopped and started because of COVID, but they stuck with it."

Carmel (1-0, 1-0 ESC/CCL Purple) made a workhorse out of junior Gabe Lynch, who carried the ball 28 times for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"It was awesome," said Lynch, who was making his first varsity start. "If it wasn't for my offensive line, I wouldn't have been able to do it."

The offensive line of Kyle Heinz, Patrick Jewell, Ryan Medina, Nicholas Kolesar, and Peter Curran along with tight end Luke Nalewajik dominated St. Patrick especially in the second half. The Corsairs were able to control the ball and the clock, running 34 plays to the Shamrocks' 13.

"Gabe isn't going anywhere without a good push," said Heinz, who is the only senior in the group.

"We have a lot of guys going both ways. I am sure everyone was very tired. But we kept going and we kept hammering on it."

Carmel took advantage of sloppy special teams play by St. Pat's to take a 10-0 lead.

The Shamrocks misplayed the opening kickoff and had then followed with a 6-yard punt. Lynch then rambled 21 yards on the Corsairs' first play from scrimmage to make it 7-0.

After almost identical miscues by the Shamrocks, Carmel's Alec Cepon kicked a 25-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

St. Patrick (1-1, 0-1) pulled to within 10-7 on a 43-yard run by Jermaine Young.

Carmel then began to lean heavily on Lynch and its offensive line.

Lynch, who had 10 carries for 64 yards at the break, began to follow the big guys in front of him. The junior dragged the ball down to the Shamrock 1. On third down, sophomore quarterback Ashton Gondeck, took a step back and the followed the blocking of Heinz and Jewel to score and cap the 8-play drive to make it 17-7 with 8:26 to play.

St. Pat's came right back and scored three plays later on 56-yard run by Young to close to 17-14.

Carmel again looked to salt the game away. The Corsairs has the ball for 10 plays with Lynch breaking a fourth-and-one play for a 34-yard touchdown with 1:49 left to make it 24-14.

The Shamrocks raced downfield and scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds left to cut the margin to 24-21. But their squib kick bounced out of bounds to give the Corsairs and McKie the win.

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