Phillips linebacker Jason Cannon reacts as Mount Carmel quarterback Justin Lynch runs in a touchdown in the second quarter during a Class 7A quarterfinal playoff game at Mount Carmel on Saturday in Chicago. Mount Carmel won, 24-8.
Phillips linebacker Jason Cannon reacts as Mount Carmel quarterback Justin Lynch runs in a touchdown in the second quarter during a Class 7A quarterfinal playoff game at Mount Carmel on Saturday in Chicago. Mount Carmel won, 24-8. — Daryl Quitalig for Shaw Media

CHICAGO – It was fitting that a defensive stop sealed Saturday’s quarterfinal win for Mount Carmel.

Caravan linebacker Lance Swain cut in front of a Phillips receiver and intercepted Terryon Thrower’s pass. From there, it was an easy 10-yard dash to the end zone for a touchdown.

Mount Carmel defeated Phillips, 24-8, in an IHSA Class 7A state quarterfinal game. Mount Carmel (12-0) will face Willowbrook in next week’s state semifinals.

“We were slow the second half on offense and our defense was picking us up,” said Mount Carmel quarterback Justin Lynch, who rushed for two touchdowns. “Heck of a play by Lance Swain at the end.”

Though Phillips (9-2) piled up 322 yards of total offense, the Mount Carmel defense made it difficult for the Wildcats to find the end zone Saturday. The loss marks the second consecutive year that Phillips’ season ended in the state quarterfinals. The Wildcats lost in the Class 6A quarterfinals in 2018, before petitioning to play up in 7A this year.

Phillips’ best drive came on the game’s first possession. The Wildcats marched from their own 20-yard line to the opposing 1. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, the Mount Carmel defense stuffed Phillips quarterback Antonio Brown’s run.

“We knew every chance we got deep [into Mount Carmel territory], we had to take advantage, and we didn’t,” Phillips coach Troy McAllister said. “It was just a miscue on our part.”

The Wildcats defense tackled Mount Carmel running back Kenenna Odeluga for a loss on the next play, resulting in a safety. Phillips led, 2-0, but not much else went the Wildcats’ way the rest of the afternoon.

On Mount Carmel’s next possession, Lynch guided the Caravan 77 yards in less than two minutes, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Mount Carmel’s Julian Patino made a 37-yard field goal and Lynch later added a second touchdown run to put the Caravan up, 17-2, at halftime.

Lynch finished his day with 54 rushing yards and two scores. He completed 10-of-20 passes for 133 yards. In the second half, though, Phillips kept the Caravan offense out of the end zone.

“They were loading the box,” Lynch said. “They’re a team that wants to be more athletic than you. They man up and they’re in the box the whole game.”

After halftime, Phillips made a switch at quarterback from Brown to Thrower.

“We knew in the second half, we would have to come out and throw it a little bit more,” McAllister said. “Antonio is actually a really good receiver. It creates a better matchup to throw it. Terryon did a pretty nice job, but we just weren’t able to do what we wanted to do.”

The aptly named Thrower connected with Ronald Pledger for a 30-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion failed, though, and it remained a two-possession game, 17-8.

Brown threw for 89 yards on 4-of-9 passing, while Thrower completed 7-of-20 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tyler Clark carried the ball 17 times for 64 yards.

Mount Carmel’s Swain ran back the pick-six interception off Thrower with 3:53 remaining to all but seal the win.

The Caravan celebrated the win with its home crowd at the brand new Barda-Dowling Stadium at Carey Field on the South Side campus. It was a moment a long time in the making. For decades, the Caravan played at the Chicago Park District’s Gately Stadium.

“Look at this place," receiver Tony Livermore said. "This place is magical, it’s electric.”