By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
Rob Varano has established himself as one of the top pass receivers in the Valley. However, on Friday the versatile senior proved he can be deadly with his foot.
The Red Tornado senior standout calmly booted a 21-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the game to lead Mount Carmel past backyard rival North Schuylkill, 44-41, in non-conference football action, giving Mount Carmel its second consecutive win after three straight losses..
Both teams were looking at possibly playing an extra quarter when the Red Tornadoes (4-3) marched 60 yards in six plays culminating with Varano's game-winning boot.
"Robbie is a kid who can hurt you in so many ways and he proved that ," MCA head coach Carmen DeFrancesco said. "He came into the huddle and told me not to worry and then went out and calmly kicked the game-winner."
Offense took center stage with the winners exploding for 406 yards, including 313 through the air by Zack Wasilewski. Varano caught six aerials for 227 yards and three touchdowns and Luke Klingerman contributing 74 on the ground.
Mount Carmel opened the scoring in the contest when Varano caught a 56-yard scoring strike from Wasilewski and then booted three conversion kicks while the Spartans (4-3) knotted the tally when Matt Smarkanic raced 64 yards for the score . However, the visitors broke the deadlock 2:09 left in the period when Tyler Kwiatkowski hauled in a five-yard TS strike but the conversion was missed and the lead stood at 13-7.
Luke Klingerman provided some breathing room with a one-yard touchdown plunge in the second period for a 19-7 advantage but Ethan Motsney, who rushed for 221 yards in the game on just 12 carries, streaked 72 yards to trim the deficit to 19-13.
The Red Tornadoes responded by going 71 yards and Varano grabbing a 56-yard TD strike from Wasilewski, who also ran for the two-point conversion, to provide a 27-13 lead at the break.
"We started going after their young secondary," DeFrancesco said. "Unfortunately, we hurt ourselves with a few miscues."
The Spartans took advantage of turnovers by the Red Tornadoes to forge a 27-27 tie. After Jordan Marlow recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff, North Schuylkill needed just five plays to march 23 yards with Smarkanic hitting paydirt from the one-yard line, and after MCA fumbled the ball away on its next possession and the home team recovering at the visitors 47, Motsney collected his second touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run to tie the game again at 27-27.
With momentum shifting onto the side of the Spartans, Bobby Beierschmitt made perhaps the game's biggest play, when he intercepted freshman quarterback Bob Grigas at the 30 and returned the theft for the tie-breaking score and a 34-27 lead.
"Beierschmitt's interception stopped the bleeding and gave our team a really big emotional lift," DeFrancesco said. "Who knows what happens had we not scored and they go in the other direction and put points on the scoreboard."
Wasilewski then added what might have been the "icing on the cake" by hitting Varano in stride for a 26-yard touchdown and a 41-27 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Spartans did not roll over but stunned the Red Tornadoes as Motsney circled left end for his second 72-yard TD jaunt and Matt Gownley then provided a 17-yard touchdown run to forge yet another tie at 41-41.
However, there would be no deadlock as Elijah Duran, who was quiet for most of the game came up with two huge receptions, including a 34-yard leaping grab that put the ball on the eight where one play later Varano ended all doubts by kicking the game's only field goal.
"Duran's body language wasn't good but I told him you have to be ready when your number is called," DeFrancesco said. "He had two big catches that set us up to win the game."