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Mount Carmel magic: Dennis Furlong’s touchdown run beats Batavia

Two controversial pass-interference calls on Mount Carmel’s last drive set up Dennis Furlong’s heroics.

Mount Carmel’s Dennis Furlong (11), Blainey Dowling (7) and Darrion Gilliam (17) celebrate with teammates during the game against Batavia.
Mount Carmel’s Dennis Furlong (11), Blainey Dowling (7) and Darrion Gilliam (17) celebrate with teammates during the game against Batavia.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Mount Carmel added a video board to its stadium this season. All the lights are turned off before the game and a short video is played, stacked with highlights of signature moments in Caravan football history.

Junior Dennis Furlong’s nine-yard touchdown run to give Mount Carmel a 16-14 win against Batavia in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs on Friday may wind up in that highlight video eventually.

“It was supposed to be a pass,” Furlong said. “I thought we had it all the way.”

The play was designed for receiver Damarion Arrington. Quarterback Blainey Dowling was supposed to hand off to Furlong, who would throw it to Arrington. But Furlong ran instead.

“I told him he had it,” Arrington said. “I have faith in my brother. No doubt. They were eyeing me the whole game. I knew Furlong had to take it and he did.”

Furlong’s heroics came on an untimed down after time expired. Batavia was called for pass interference in the end zone. Two Mount Carmel receivers wound up on the ground before the pass reached the end zone. It was the second crucial pass interference call on the Caravan’s final drive.

“It just felt like we were playing against two teams,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “ I’ve never seen that in my life. I’m not a person that says things like this. I can’t make these kids feel better. It isn’t the loss. I don’t mind losing games. This is going to sound horrible in the paper tomorrow, but whatever.”

Batavia (10-1) led 14-10 at halftime and neither team was able to muster much offense in the second half.

“We just put pressure on them the entire game,” Mount Carmel linebacker Danny Novickas said. “I can easily say we are the most physical team in the state and we can beat almost anybody we want. As long as we play a good physical game we are going to come out on top.”

Novickas had two sacks. Mount Carmel fumbled a punt in the third quarter that Batavia recovered. That was the only turnover in the game.

“I don’t know why we always start slow but we know how to finish,” Arrington said.

Mount Carmel quarterback Blainey Dowling was 7 for 13 for 96 yards with a 21-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Darrion Gilliam. Dowling had 12 carries for 57 yards and it was his confident decision making that propelled the Caravan (8-3) downfield on the final drive.

“The defense came to play,” Dowling said. “They are the reason we won this game. Awesome job by them.”

Batavia running back Jalen Buckley had 15 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Boe was 7 for 14 for 115 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass to AJ Sanders.

“They didn’t want to shake hands at the end,” Dowling said. “I don’t know. I thought it was a respectful game. We knew they didn’t play the best on the road. It gets so loud in here. I couldn’t even hear at the end of the game. So the fans played a huge part. It was an awesome atmosphere in here.”

Mount Carmel will face the Yorkville-Brother Rice winner in the quarterfinals next weekend.

Watch the final minute of Batavia at Mount Carmel: