7A playoffs | Mount Carmel rides Domer to win over St. Rita

The precautionary rest Mount Carmel gave Matt Domer late in the season came in handy Friday.

When St. Rita pushed the Caravan to the limit in a Class 7A second-round playoff game at Gately Stadium, Domer had plenty left in the tank to push back.

St. Rita's Julian Crum single-handedly threatened to turn a first-half snoozer into a shocker, but Domer stemmed the tide and carried the No. 2 Caravan to a 20-15 victory against the No. 6 Mustangs.

The Illinois-bound Domer (30 carries, 259 yards) had 73 of the 87 yards on the winning drive and erased Rita's 15-14 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play.

"We knew it was going to be a dogfight," Domer said. "They've got a little hate in their heart and we've got a little hate in our heart from the last game (a 24-3 Mount Carmel win in Week 5).

"Even though we came out with a great punch early, it still came down to the wire. It was a great game."

Mount Carmel (10-1) led 14-0 at halftime and was dominating defensively before Crum changed the game with three big plays in a 4-minute, 6-second span.

His blocked punt went out of the end zone for a safety to make it 14-2 with 1.8 seconds left in the third quarter.

Crum then took a reverse 40 yards for a score, and won a jump ball on Rita's next possession for an improbable 15-14 lead.

"That was a great experience," Crum said. "It caught me off guard too."

Domer, who played sparingly while nursing a minor injury late in the season, then stepped to the fore.

He was handed the ball on five consecutive plays and eight of 10 to upstage Crum's effort.

"When it's on the line you have to be ready to ride Secretariat," Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. "And that's exactly what we did."

Player of the game: Matt Domer, Mount Carmel, 30 carries, 259 yards, 1 TD.

Key performers: St. Rita — Julian Crum, 70-yard TD catch, 40-yard TD run, blocked punt for safety. Mount Carmel — Steve Richardson, sack, blocked punt; Jimmy Mickens, 2 TDs.

Next: 7A quarterfinal, Mount Carmel vs. Downers Grove North.