QUINCY — The trip to Quincy for a quarterfinal playoff football game was just another business trip for Chicago Mount Carmel quarterback Jack Elliott.
It was longer than most.
“Every week is a business trip, whether we’re home or away,” said the 6-foot-1 junior. “It was five hours. It’s a long way, but we’re a pretty loose team and we’ve come in and run our business. We have to do it again next week and the week after that.”
Running their business for two more weeks would put the Caravan in position to repeat as 7A state champions. Based on their performance against Quincy High School on Saturday at Flinn Stadium, there’s no reason to bet against the top-ranked team in the state.
Elliott completed 18 of 23 passes for 369 yards and connected with five different receivers for touchdowns in the first half to lead Mount Carmel to a 47-0 lead en route to a 61-14 victory over the Blue Devils.
The Caravan, 11-1 and winners of 25 of its last 26 games, will face Batavia in the semifinals for its 15th state title.
It was amazing how Elliott carved up the Quincy secondary with ease, putting the game out of reach early.
He capped the Caravan’s first 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring pass to Brayden Jordan. He followed that up by scrambling left out of the pocket to avoid pressure to connect with Darrion Gilliam on the left side for a 60-yard score.
Elliott then caught a 15-yard pass up the middle that Darrion Dupree juggled and then was caught in the end zone as he fell, making it 21-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.
He threw two more touchdowns against Quincy’s beleaguered secondary in the final two minutes of the half — the first a 42-yarder that 6-foot-2 Kevin Gardner soared into the crowd in the end zone and the second a 16-yarder. It stretched across the back of the end zone to Maurice Densmore.
And that was the end of Elliott’s day.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “They are a talented team in the field of cinema and we should respect them. We took what they gave us and we have so many weapons.
Dupree, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior running back who committed to Mount Carmel, Wisconsin, entered the game planning on being a back — one of several Caravan players drawing interest from Division I college recruits.
“Out of 10 plays on our first drive, I think (Dupree) touched the ball eight or nine times,” Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. “We were in the Wheaton (North) game and it’s a tough place to play. So we had a lot of respect for them coming into the game and wanted to lean on our seniors.
“Then we saw that they had some kind of light in the box, so we started deploying and catching, using some of our bubble screens outside to get us going. Then, before you knew it, we had it all. We’ll take what the defense gives us.
“We like to get our athletes the ball in space. It makes me a better coach. “When you get No. 9 (Elliott) as a decision maker, he’s going to take you to the right place and make the right read.”
Record-setting Quincy quarterback Bradyn Little wasn’t so lucky.
Under pressure for most of the first half, he threw for just 143 yards and was picked off three times. He connected with Adon Byquist for a 54-yard touchdown on his 45th of the season and finished with 23 completions on 38 attempts for 226 yards.
“The kid is a great player, trains well and can do a lot,” said Lynch, a 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist as a quarterback at Northern Illinois University who later played in the National Football League and in the U.S. with the Chicago Bears. Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
“Our defensive front is pretty good and we got a lot of pressure with our scheme. “Any time you rush the quarterback, it’s hard for a 16- or 17-year-old to work in the pocket.”
Mount Carmel lived up to its billing, dominating every phase of the game. He anchored an explosive Quincy offense that averaged 44.7 points per game.
Speedy wide receiver Tykell, a favorite target of Karvan Little, limited the Hammers to three catches for minus 1 yard. The Hammers entered the game with 73 receptions for 1,023 yards and 15 TDs.
Meanwhile, running back Jeraius Rice had little room to work with until he scored on a 17-yard run in the third quarter that most of Mount Carmel’s starters were separated from. He finished with 56 yards rushing on eight attempts, putting him past the 1,600-yard mark for the season.