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Mount Carmel Area defeats North Penn-Mansfield 60-20

Written by: on Saturday, November 5th, 2022. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


MOUNT CARMEL – Letting an overwhelming underdog hang around can be dangerous. Better to start fast and not let the underdog stick around and gain any sense of hope of an upset.

That’s exactly what Mount Carmel did on Friday. Fresh of its first undefeated regular season since 2008, top-seeded Mount Carmel made sure it didn’t let North Penn Mansfield hang around for very long in Friday night’s District 4 Class 2A playoff opener. After turning the ball over on downs in the red zone on its first possession, the Red Tornados proceeded to score on nine of their next 10 possessions, including its next four drives in the first quarter, as the Red Tornados used quick scoring drives to quickly pull away from the Panthers and advance to next week’s district semifinal with a 60-20 win.

The Red Tornados will take on Hughesville at home next week after the fifth-seeded Spartans went on the road and knocked off fourth-seeded Bloomsbury 12-3.

“I thought we executed well on offense and our defense played really well,” said Mount Carmel coach John Darrah. “They’re kind of a hurry-up team and like to throw the ball a lot but we were able to put up a lot of points, and I thought our younger guys got a lot of valuable experience in the game, too.” 

“It’s a special place down here, they’ve got a great thing, and we’ve been here before so we knew what to expect but nothing prepares you,” said North Penn Mansfield coach Chris Olson. “We knew we were going to have to come in here and play hard and we did for a little bit but then things started to fall apart a bit and we couldn’t right the ship tonight. They’re going to do some special things this year.”

Oddly enough, the Panthers ended up with more first downs (19) in the game than the victorious Red Tornados (17). But just six of North Penn Mansfield’s first downs came in the first half, as a majority were in the second half after the mercy rule was invoked.

The main reason why Mount Carmel had so few first downs despite scoring 60 points was due to its quick scoring drives, which were the order of the night. The Red Tornados scored seven touchdowns, including six in the first half, on drives that lasted under a minute. Only two scoring drives took more than a minute, with the Red Tornados’ longest scoring drive of the night checking in at just 1:35.

Three touchdowns were single-play drives, including their first score, when Xaviar Diaz got loose for a 36-yard touchdown run to put Mount Carmel up 6-0 at 6:45 to go in the first, after the Red Tornado defense forced North Penn Mansfield into a three-and-out on its ensuing possession after Mount Carmel had turned it over on downs.

After another three-and-out, Cole Spears capped a four-play drive with a 17-yard screen pass to Matt Schicchitano to put Mount Carmel up 12-0. That drive took 1:14, and it was Mount Carmel’s second-longest drive by time of the game.

One more three-and-out later by North Penn Mansfield gave the Red Tornados the ball near midfield, and this time, Luke Blessing burst loose up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown run. Later on in the first quarter, Michael Farronato found the end zone as he took a handoff on a counter play and went into the end zone from 13 yards out, making it 26-0 before the end of the opening quarter.

Mount Carmel’s lone major miscue of the night gave North Penn Mansfield its only points of the first half, as a mishandled handoff was picked out of midair by Ethan Dick, who was in the right place at the right time, and he returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the first minute of the second quarter.

But the Red Tornados answered right back less than a minute later, as Garrett Varano capped a two-play drive with a 34-yard touchdown run, the first of two rushing touchdowns on as many carries on the night for him. Later in the second quarter, Varano would run it in from 21-yards out to cap a three-play drive, the second-longest of the night for Mount Carmel in terms of plays. In between Varano touchdowns, Blessing took a screen pass from Spears and turned it into a 39-yard touchdown reception.

“Garrett is a really versatile player,” said Darrah. “He made some great moves, even had one called back as well, so he did a really great job in the open field and stayed on his feet and had a lot of success tonight.”

“That’s the biggest difference we run into, is we don’t have the strength to keep up with some of these bigger teams like Mount Carmel,” said Olson. “They’re bigger, faster, stronger. We can scheme all day but the bottom line is if you don’t have the guys to execute, then it’s going to be a long night like it was tonight.”

Spears, who completed 11-of-15 passes for 217 yards and the pair of touchdowns, was particularly efficient on the screens, as Mount Carmel got a good chunk of its passing yards on the evening with just short passes. 

“That’s something (screens) that we wanted to work on coming into the game so we just decided to let it rip,” said Darrah. “It’s something we’ve been practicing all year and I thought we did a nice job of executing them tonight.” 

The Panthers did manage a pair of scores in the second half. Kohen Lehman took a short pass from Karson Dominick and turned it into a 36-yard touchdown reception with 9:14 left in the third quarter. Lehman, playing in his final high school game, wrapped up a stellar career with 144 all-purpose yards and the touchdown.

Later in the second half, Dominick found Cooper Shaw for a four-yard touchdown pass, putting a cap on his night, which featured 150 yards on 18-of-33 passing.

Although it was mainly the second string and JV players that played most of the second half, the Red Tornados didn’t take the foot off the gas peddle by any means. On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Michael Kimsal broke off a 61-yard touchdown run, the third single-play scoring drive of the game for Mount Carmel.

Later in the third, freshman quarterback Gavin Marshalek found a wide-open Tait Adams for a 65-yard touchdown pass on his only throw of the game.

Mount Carmel 60, North Penn Mansfield 20

North Penn Mansfield (3-8)      0   6     7 – 20

Mount Carmel (11-0)                 26 21 13  0 – 60

First quarter

6:45 – (MC) Xaviar Diaz 36-yard run (kick failed), 1-36, :08

4:30 – (MC) Matt Schicchitano 17-yard pass from Cole Spears (kick failed), 4-35, 1:14

2:34 – (MC) Luke Blessing 49-yard run (Yagodzinski kick), 1-49, :09

:51 – (MC) Michael Farronato 13-yard run (Yagodzinski kick), 4-37, :33

Second quarter

11:04 – (NP) Ethan Dick 40-yard fumble return (kick blocked)

10:26 – (MC) Garrett Varano 34-yard run (Yagodzinski kick), 2-47, :38

6:58 – (MC) Luke Blessing 39-yard pass from Cole Spears (Yagodzinski kick), 2-73, :18

4:06 – (MC) Garrett Varano 21-yard run (Yagodzinski kick), 3-55, :40

Third quarter

11:40 – (MC) Michael Kimsal 61-yard run (Schoppy kick), 1-61, :15

9:14 – (NP) Kohen Lehman 36-yard pass from Karson Dominick (Brion kick), 6-60, 2:26

7:39 – (MC) Tait Adams 65-yard pass from Gavin Marshalek (kick blocked), 3-64, 1:35

Fourth quarter

7:19 – (NP) Cooper Shaw 4-yard pass from Karson Dominick (Brion kick), 13-78, 7:29

                                          NP                   MC
First downs                     19                       17
Rushes-net yards       38-119               21-249
Passing yardage            150                    282
Passing                      18-33-2-0        12-16-3-0

Fumbles-lost                  0-0                    3-1

Penalties-yards             9-69                10-95


RUSHING — North Penn Mansfield: Kohen Lehman (23-63), Ethan Dick (8-19), Easton Pequignot (3-17), George Valentine (3-16), Joe Sember (1-4); Mount Carmel: Xaviar Diaz (5-60-1), Michael Kimsal (3-61-1), Garrett Varano (2-55-2), Ryan Weidner (2-18), Orville Fesniak (2-8), Luke Blessing (1-49-1), Michael Farronato (1-13-1), Daniel Velasquez (1-1), Gavin Marshalek (1-1), Andrew Lukoskie (1-(-1)), Brady Wokoski (1-(-2)), Cole Spears (1-(-14))

PASSING — North Penn Mansfield: Karson Dominick (18-33-150-2-0); Mount Carmel: Cole Spears (11-15-217-2-0), Gavin Marshalek (1-1-65-1-0)

RECEIVING — North Penn Mansfield: Sammy Lawrence (6-38), Cooper Shaw (5-38-1), Kohen Lehman (4-64-1), Derek Litzelman (2-8), Alex Davis (1-2) ; Mount Carmel: Michael Farronato (3-86), Garrett Varano (3-20), Matt Schicchitano (2-34-1), Jacob Schultz (2-38), Luke Blessing (1-39-1), Tait Adams (1-65-1)

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