CHICAGO – Losing junior running back Richie Warfield to a knee injury on his third play Friday night didn’t help Providence Catholic’s cause.
Three turnovers hurt it even more.
A young offensive line that didn’t protect quarterback Jared Drake consistently also was a problem.
Yet, the Celtics held Mount Carmel to a scoreless tie through more than three quarters of Friday night’s Catholic Blue showdown at Gately Stadium.
Then the odds, and Mount Carmel’s penchant for running the ball down an opponent’s throat when it matters, came back to haunt the Celtics. The result was the third loss in succession for Providence, a 13-0 defeat in the conference opener.
The Celtics are off to their poorest start since an 0-4 opening in 2010 led to a 2-7 finish.
“It was kind of tough all night,” Providence coach Mark Coglianese said. “We’ve very banged-up and very young, but against a great Mount Carmel team, we were in position to win.”
That position changed with the Caravan’s old-school, 13-play drive that produced a 7-0 lead on A.J. Ries’ two-yard plunge with 7:15 to play. Twice, Mount Carmel converted on third down after having done so only once in the previous nine drives. And Ries’ two-yard gain on a pitch to the right on fourth-and-2 kept the sortie alive. Suddenly, this wasn’t a team that also gave the ball away three times.
The Caravan’s 49-yard march never left the ground and accounted for a majority of the yards they gained in the second half.
On the other side, the Celtics were prevented from getting going by a stern defense. Warfield reinjured a knee on a one-yard catch in Providence’s first drive and was never seen again. His prognosis is unclear.
Drake, a junior getting his first start, was 13 of 26 for 133 yards but was sacked five times and tackled for losses on two running plays. The Celtics gained only 36 yards on the ground and 169 overall to Mount Carmel’s 176.
On perhaps their best drive, the Celtics moved the ball to the Caravan 23 in 12 plays, but P.J. Kowalkowski’s 39-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
The final blow came with 1:34 to play. Drake, who had just scrambled for 22 yards for a first down on third-and-17, fed a pass into the hands of Caravan linebacker Jordan Cousert. He took it 65 yards to the end zone.
The process of picking up the pieces starts with practices leading to the next game, at Marmion Academy on Friday night.