The game was impacted from the get-go by junior receiver Mike Dudek, who took The Opening kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown. Dudek, who possesses unique speed, was gone as soon as he got past the last line of defense.
The teams exchanged goal-line stands, and at the half, the game was tied at 14 on a couple of Dudek TD's to offset two Jason Gasser TD's for Mount Carmel.
The two opponents went at each other in the second half like boxers in the late rounds of a fight (thankfully no real punches were thrown). It was a smashmouth game for sure.
However, Mount Carmel pulled away from Nequa Valley after yet another Jason Gasser receiving TD to go ahead 20-14 and subsequently another rushing TD by Matt Domer to get it to get to 26-14. Both PAT's failed, leaving the door open for Nequa.
Nequa Valley had the ball in Mount Carmel territory at about the 40 with just over 5 minutes remaining in the game, but on a 4th and 8, the Wildcats couldn't convert, and the time-eating Mount Carmel offense took over. Nequa did get the ball back, and with 33 seconds remaining, Nequa's Reggie Ervin caught a tipped ball for a touchdown to bring Nequa to within 5.
Needing the ball back, Nequa went for the onside kick, and though they appeared successful after blasting the Mount Carmel player who fielded the kick, the officials ruled the ball to be in Mount Carmel's possession, thus sealing the win for the Caravan.
It was a tough loss for Nequa Valley, and many of the players were visibly disappointed after the game. But for them to have already come that far was something they were all proud of.
Dudek, only a junior, now knows that it's on him to start preparing for next year to rebound and hopefully fulfill the goals that they fell just short of this season.
The slot speedster isn't the biggest guy out there on the field, but he was routinely getting open and getting behind the defense. He had great body control making tough catches and was quick in and out of his breaks.
So it's no wonder he's getting interest from all across the Big Ten, including serious interest from Illinois, who Dudek has visited. We caught up with him after the game.