MISHAWAKA —No, Zach Oakley did not direct the Penn band at halftime or even sell popcorn in the stands.
But in the Class 6A sectional title game on Friday, Nov. 1, at Penn’s Freed Field, Oakley did just about everything else, as the top-ranked Kingsmen rolled to a 30-0 victory over Chesterton.
The 10-0 Kingsmen will travel to Lake Central next Friday, Nov. 8, to face the 8-2 Indians, a 31-0 winner over Merrillville.
Oakley ran for a pair of long touchdowns and passed for two more for the quick-strike Penn offense. The talented senior, who is headed to Central Michigan next fall, totaled 218 yards rushing in just eight carries, while passing for 111 more.
“We really don’t come into a game expecting to run this play or that play a lot and tonight was no different,” Penn coach Cory Yeoman said. “What Zach did tonight came out of our regular offense, but he just ran things very well and used his speed to get into the open field.”
Already leading 14-0 at the half, Oakley started the second half in style, keeping the ball on a read option and taking it 67 yards to the end zone to push the Penn lead to 21-0 just 24 seconds into the half. With the Trojans playing eight men in the box, it just took a small seam for Oakley to get into the open field and then easily beat a defensive back to the end zone.
After a Penn safety made it 23-0, Oakley completed his great night with a 47-yard touchdown run on nearly the exact same play he scored on earlier, pushing the lead to 30-0 with 5:44 to play in the third. Although he returned to the field for one more series, the touchdown run was Oakley’s last carry of the evening.
“We’ve had nights where our running backs have carried us this season, but tonight things opened up for Zach and he made the plays,’’ Yeoman said. “Chesterton has some big strong kids defensively, so our offensive line also did it’s job to open holes for him.’’
Meanwhile, the Penn defense did it’s job, too, holding Chesterton to 157 yards and keeping the Trojans out of the end zone.
The Trojans’ biggest threat early in the fourth quarter, following Penn’s only turnover of the night. Chesterton had a first-and-goal from the Penn five, but the Kingsmen defense held.
“I thought it was important to keep a zero on the scoreboard,’’ Yeoman said. “For us to get a shutout against their option attack and a quarterback that runs the ball very well was a big accomplisment for us.’’
Penn got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter on a great individual play by wide receiver Nate Miller.
Miller took a quick pass to the outside from Oakley, broke it into the middle of the field, broke a tackle and was gone, completing a 56-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 Kingsmen.
After a Trojan punt, Penn had it’s only extended drive of the night, going 74 yards in seven plays to make it 14-0.
This time Oakley froze the Chesterton secondary with a great fake in the backfield, which allowed running back Tyler Carpenter to sneak downfield. Oakley hit the junior in stride for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The sectional title is the 20th in school history, and it’s first since 2011.
As for next week’s trip to Lake Central — on what is expected to be a slow and muddy field — Yeoman isn’t worried.
“We’ve played there before, so we have some idea about what we’ll be up against, which is a very good football team,’’ Yeoman said. “I’ll say this, playing on a muddy field in the rain is a lot better than being warm and dry in your living room if you’re season is over. We’re happy to win this sectional, now we’ll concentrate on Lake Central.’’
Penn 30, Chesterton 0
Scoring by Quarters
Chesterton 0 0 0 0 — 0
Penn 7 7 16 0 — 30
School — Scoring Play
P — Nate Miller 56 pass from Zach Oakley; Loren McSorley kick, 3:48.
P — Tyler Carpenter 25 pass from Oakley; McSorley kick, 8:31.
P — Oakley 67 run; McSorley kick, 11:36.
P — Safety, Colin McEuen tackled in end zone; 7:05.
P — Oakley 47 run; McSorley kick, 5:44.
Officials: Shawn Jenkins, Pete Lestinsky, Chadd Davis, Tom Cook, Tim Farwig.
Team Statistics Ch Pe
Net yards rushing 136 296
Net yards passing 23 111
Total Yards 159 407
First Downs 11 13
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-1
Penalties 9-64 5-50
Chesterton: Rushing — Cole Teal 17-69, Colin McEuen 12-34, Alex Kasalfanos 5-19. Passing — Teal 4-12-23. Receiving — Kasalfanos 2-12, McEuen 1-11.
Penn: Rushing — Zach Oakley 8-218, Khalil Fleming 8-25, Camden Bohn 1-20, Tim Pletcher 2-22. Passing — Oakley 6-11-111. Receiving — Nate Miller 5-85, Tyler Carpenter 1-25.