Having played Sunday at Toyota Park in a one-point loss, Mount Carmel was not going to let the short, four-day prep week get in its way.
Sitting through two delays in the game before and one in their own Friday, the Caravan certainly weren’t going to slow up on account of lightning either.
In a game that started after 9 p.m. and was delayed another 30 minutes with a spotted lightning strike, Mount Carmel rode its ground game to a convincing, if ugly, 43-6 win over Morgan Park at Gately Stadium.
“It was tough coming off of Sunday, and we haven’t had a day off in 12 days,” Caravan running back A.J. Lewis said. “We’ve been going at it hard, and the coaches don’t have a lot of sympathy for us. They want the best out of us and believe we can do what we did last year (win state) and keep pushing us.”
Having combined for 269 rushing yards in Mount Carmel’s season-opening loss to national power Philadelphia St. Joseph, the two-headed backfield monster of Lewis and Jaquan Buntyn picked up right where they left off.
Buntyn finished with 125 rushing yards on 15 carries with two scores, two and 12 yards, while Lewis contributed with 17 rushes for 86 yards and two scores, one and four yards.
Lewis also added 83 big return yards on special teams.
“It’s fun running with A.J.,” Buntyn said. “He’s like a brother to me. The holes open up, the offensive line did a great job, and we got some big runs.”
After a 30-minute delay late in the first quarter, Mount Carmel’s offense came to life out of a scoreless funk. Lewis started things off with a one-yard slam up the middle with 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Caravan defense did its share, forcing a safety when Kevin Thurmon and Troy Weissenhofer tackled Morgan Park quarterback William James in the endzone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lewis returned the ball 58 yards, helping set up Buntyn’s two-yard touchdown run up the middle.
“The key was our focus,” Lewis said. “Coming back out so late was ridiculous, but we knew what we had to do as long as we kept our heads on straight.”
Quarterback Anthony Townsend added a 1-yard keeper as Mount Carmel (1-1) claimed a commanding 22-0 halftime lead, never looking back.
“We did have a nasty taste in our mouth from the loss on Sunday,” Buntyn said. “Had to come out tonight and get the win.”
Morgan Park drops to 0-2. Backup quarterback Greg Howell hit Chester Shipp for a 15-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter for the Mustangs’ lone score. Howell finished 6 of 10 for 49 yards.