Carmel defense stifles Nazareth
La Grange Park, IL - Saturday, September 22, 2012: Nazareth's running back Joshua Moore looks for room to run vs Carmel. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
LA GRANGE PARK — For the second consecutive year, Nazareth will have to finish the season without its leading rusher.
Based on Saturday’s 13-7 loss to Carmel, this season might be harder than last season, which still ended in a playoff appearance for the Roadrunners.
Carmel’s swarming 3-5-3 defense limited No. 24 Nazareth (2-3, 0-3 East Suburban Catholic) to 131 rushing yards — 58 in the first half — and the Corsairs (2-3, 2-1) did not allow any points until late in the fourth quarter to pull off the upset against the short-handed Roadrunners.
Nazareth senior running back Rudy Romagnano tore the ACL in his right knee in the first quarter of a 34-33 overtime loss at Joliet Catholic Sept. 14. Against Joliet Catholic in 2011, Romagnano broke his ankle in the first quarter and was able to return for just a few carries in the playoffs.
“Every team goes through injuries and adversity,” Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. “That is not exclusive to Nazareth football.”
Nazareth’s only TD Saturday came after Carmel safety Michael Kelly intercepted Jake Bartels for the second time in the game at Carmel’s own 4-yard line. Two plays later, Carmel’s Josh Walinski (19 carries, 122 yards, TD) fumbled to set up a 1-yard touchdown run for Nazareth’s Joshua Moore with 3:47 remaining in the game.
“The kid (Kelly) tried to make a great play,” Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. “It kind of set up the TD. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Corsairs were able to run out the clock to end the game. Moore (22 carries, 66 yards) replaced Romagnano at running back after last year’s injury, but does not see as many snaps as one of Nazareth’s starting inside linebackers.
Bartels (8 for 22, 64 yards) was intercepted three times in the game. He completed only one pass in six attempts in the second half.
Junior quarterback Nick Grandolfo followed Walinski’s 4-yard TD run with a 40-yard TD run of his own with 3:06 remaining in the second quarter after the Roadrunners punted for only 7 yards. The Corsairs’ point-after kick was blocked. Grandolfo passed only four times in the game and did not attempt a pass in the second half.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Nazareth and Carmel football teams.