Friday, Nov. 12, 2010
By Mike Clark
It sure didn't seem like it at the time, but the best thing that happened to Michael Banks was when he fumbled away a Lyons punt early in the second quarter Friday night.
The Lions took advantage of the Mount Carmel senior's mistake to score a field goal. But Banks bounced back to score his second and third touchdowns of the evening as the Caravan cruised to a 41-10 Class 8A quarterfinal win at Gately Stadium.
No. 13 Mount Carmel (10-2) advanced to the state semifinals for the 19th time in 25 seasons and will host Homewood-Flossmoor next weekend. No. 10 Lyons, which was seeking its first trip to the semis, finished 10-2.
Banks ran 17 times for 134 yards, while quarterback Chris Sujka rushed 16 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns of his own, giving him 28 for the season.
That backed a big night by the Mount Carmel defense, which finished with 10 sacks and three interceptions.
"Our defense really got after it this week," Sujka said. "It had a lot to do with our offensive line and defensive line going after each other in practice. ... It got them better."
Banks' early mistake provided a similar spark.
"The mishandled punt was not a smart play on my behalf," Banks said. "The whole game after that, I had to make a play for my team. ... If I didn't do that, that would have haunted me for the rest of my life."
The Caravan opened a 14-0 first-quarter lead on touchdown runs of 10 yards by Banks and six yards by Sujka. Mike Pett's 35-yard field goal, set up by Banks' fumble, got Lyons on the board. Sujka plunged across from a yard out to make it 21-3, but Lyons quarterback Brian Kelley hit Mark Sewall with a 34-yard scoring pass 49 second before halftime to cut the margin to 21-10.
After a scoreless third quarter, Mount Carmel pulled away. Sujka had his third TD run, a 12-yarder, with 11:42 left and Banks had touchdown dashes of 36 and 30 yards.
The Caravan defense took care of the rest, as Jack Houser, Brandon Greer and Dave Nicholson all had interceptions. Up front, Jon-Stefan Bodnar helped keep the pressure on Kelley all night.
"The defense did a great job of getting the ball back and we took advantage of it," Banks said. "The 10 points we gave up, we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times in the kicking game," Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. "We did some things that were very uncharacteristic of us."
And then Banks, Sujka and the defense did a few things that were very much in character.