It turned out to not be a banner day for the Northern Indiana Conference after all as Penn, Washington and St. Joe all lost it the high school football state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday.
Brandon Denning passed for 143 yards and ran for 60 more to help No. 2 Carmel handed No. 3 Penn its first loss of the season 54-0 in the 5A Championship game.
It was the first apperance in the state finals for Penn since 2003, when they also gave up more than 50 points in a loss to Warren Central. The Kingsmen lost won a state championship in 2000.
Adam Kehoe set a 5A finals record with 11 catches. He finished with 123 yards receiving and a touchdown. Jalen Duncan added 110 yards rushing for the Greyhounds (14-1), who gained 438 yards in the most lopsided 5A title game ever.
Carmel coach Kevin Wright became the fifth coach in state history to win state titles at two different schools. Wright won titles at Warren Central in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Carmel held Penn to 186 yards while completing one of the toughest roads to a title in state history. Carmel beat Perry Meridian, No. 10 Lawrence Central, No. 1 Warren Central, No. 5 Indianapolis Ben Davis and rival Center Grove to reach the final.
South Bend Washington was in the state finals for the first time since winning it all in 1973 and put up a bigger 1st half fight than most thought they would be, but turnovers killed the Panthers chances--eventually falling 42-7 to Cathedral in the 4A State Finals.
The Panthers started the game well---completing an early pass to Gehrig Dieter inside the Fightin Irish 10 yard line. But the Panthers were pushed back and on 4th and 18, Dieter caught what would have been a touchdown pass but he was out of bounds.
Cathedral scored the game's 1st touchdown on the first play of the 2nd quarter on a Corey Babb quarterback sneak. The Washington defense came up huge in the 1st half, denying Cathedral twice inside the Panther 20. But Daigien Morgan threw a costly interception that led to Cathedral's 2nd score of the game on a Gino Gillum touchdown run.
Washington made a great drive at the end of 1st half, and kicked a field goal for its first points. But too many many on the field negated that and Washington went into halftime down 14-0.
The Panthers then fumbled the opening kickoff of the 2nd half and it was all down hill from there.
Dieter scored Washington's lone touchdown on a 54 yard score.
St. Joe was down 21-0 to Chatard at halftime.
Ben Downey told his players, play the St. Joe way.
That's what his Indians did--putting up a tremendous fight in the 2nd half. But in the end the comeback wasn't enough as St. Joe fell to Chatard 21-7 in the 3A high school football State finals Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It's the 3rd loss in five years for St. Joe in the state finals to Chatard. It's the 11th state championship for Chatard---a new IHSAA record.
Ryan Kleinschmidt rushed for a 45 yard touchdown run to give the Chatard an early lead. Connor Edmunds forced a fumble and St. Joe had the ball at the Chatard 33 yard line in the 2nd quarter but were stuffed on 4th and 2. On the ensuing drive, Kleinschmidt scored again to go up 14-0.
Henry Hill scored another touchdown to make it 21-0 at the half.
In the 2nd half, the Indians came out with fight. Nick Carmola showed tremendous effort--getting himself into the end zone on a 4th and goal push to give the Indians its first points of the game.
St. Joe had some opportunities, but Carmola would throw his 2nd interception of the game on the next drive. Late in the 4th, St. Joe would fumble the ball--ending the Indians chances for a comeback.
St. Joe's season ends with a 12-3 record.