Forget for a moment that the final score of Mt. Carmel High’s (Mount Carmel, Ill.) season-ending loss came with a basketball-like score of 71-70. That was wild, but the way that the teams got there was even more strange. Just consider the fact that the Mt. Carmel Aces held a 70-49 lead … with just 2:14 remaining in the game.
Somehow, that wasn’t enough to seal the victory, with Greenville High finding a way to generate 22 points by the end of the game, stunning the Golden Aces and ending the program’s quest for a state title
Here’s how it all went down:
As reported by the Evansville Courier & Press and Belleville News Democrat, among other sources, Mt. Carmel running back Shawn Flickinger scored what appeared to be a game-sealing touchdown on a 24-yard run with just 4:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. The three-touchdown cushion forced Greenville to strike quickly and the Comets obliged, with Erik Turok capping a 2:10 drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge with 2:13 remaining. The subsequent extra point cut the Mt. Carmel lead to 70-56.
There wasn’t enough time for Greenville to kick the ball, hold Mt. Carmel and still score twice more, so the Comets had to attempt an onside kick. The special teams unit played it to perfection, getting the ball back for Greenville. As soon as the Comets had the ball they called a trick play, with quarterback Tyler Hutchinson and wide receivers Austin Lawrence and Dalton Young hooking up for a 48-yard, double-pass touchdown. As the extra point sailed through, the clock read 2:03. The Comets had scored 14 points in just 10 seconds.
Trailing by seven, Greenville recovered a second-straight onside kick — this time the kickoff bounced off a member of the Mt. Carmel hands squad — and then embarked on a 1:43 second possession that would culminate in a 1-yard power run into the end zone from Turok, cutting the Mt. Carmel lead to 70-69.
With the season on the line, Greenville opted for a shot at the win rather than overtime, and coach Todd Hutchinson’s faith was rewarded when his son Tyler connected with Lawrence for the game-winning strike.
Mt. Carmel couldn’t muster a drive to field goal range with the remaining 20 seconds, sending the Aces home to a long offseason to ponder how everything went wrong so quickly.
"We thought 'We get the ball, let's score and see what happens,''' the elder Hutchinson told the News Democrat. "I said to make sure we have a 2-point play ready. We got through our drive, we scored and it got crazy from there.
"To score three times in 2 minutes and 13 seconds was pretty amazing. Everything that happened kind of just fell into place and enabled us to find a way at the end to get a win."
Fittingly, Greenville quarterback Tyler Hutchinson compiled incredible statistics in the victory, passing for state playoff records in yards, completions and attempts; he finished 43-of-87 through the air for 645 yards and 6 touchdowns. Greenville’s 71 points were also the fourth most in state playoff history regardless of classification, and the 141 combined points scored by the teams set a new state playoff record.
Mt. Carmel countered Hutchinson’s heroics with 756 yards of total offense. The 1,652 combined yards from the two squads also set a state mark by more than 400 yards.
Both offenses were brilliant, but in the end Greenville timed its frantic comeback exactly right, much to the chagrin of Mt. Carmel.
"Last year we were down 20-plus to Carterville with nine minutes left and came back and beat them," Coach Hutchinson told the News Democrat. "We've been in some wild games, but honestly never a 71-70 game -- and it's so much more fun to be on the other side of that."
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