NORTHWOOD 52, EAST NOBLE 24
KENDALLVILLE — Bronson Yoder scored three touchdowns, intercepted two passes and mixed in a pair of two-point conversions as NorthWood captured its first sectional football title since 2011 with a punishing ground game and opportunistic defense Friday.
The No. 2-ranked Panthers (12-0) host No. 3 New Haven (11-0) in a regional showdown of Class 4A unbeatens next week at Andrews Field in Nappanee.
Linebacker Drew Minnich snagged a deflected East Noble pass and turned it into a 20-yard pick six as NorthWood roared to a 22-0 lead by late in the first quarter.
The Panthers led 38-16 at halftime, but the Knights closed to 38-24 early in the third quarter on quarterback Andrew McCormick’s third rushing touchdown of the game.
East Noble (8-3) marched much of the field with a chance to make it a one-score contest in the fourth period. However, NorthWood’s DeAndre Smart and Jake Stump combined to strip the ball from a Knight runner at the Panther 9 for the visitors’ third of four takeaways on the night at 4:11 left as the momentum swung dramatically back to NorthWood the rest of the way.
Brayton Yoder rushed 23 times for 159 yards and a TD as the Panthers gained 307 yards on the ground. Trey Bilinski threw a pair of TD passes and finished 12-of-20 through the air for 179 yards.
GARRETT 29, JIMTOWN 26
GARRETT — The biggest struggle of the Jimtown defense in 2016 took a bite out of the Jimmies at the worst time in the sectional championshp game.
Garrett quarterback Tanner Burns threw picture-perfect 42-yard touchdown pass to Ben Purdy on the final play of a wild third quarter to give Garrett the lead for good.
“We have had trouble with the big play all season and it bit us again tonight,” Jimtown coach Mike Campbell said. “We knew they could throw it and Burns was really sharp.”
Jimtown drove to the Garrett 20 with just over three minutes to play, but a fumble stopped the drive and the Railroaders ran out the clock.
Garrett improved to 11-1 record and eliminated the Jimmies (7-5) for the second straight year.
One of Jimtown’s top highlights was a 99-yard kickoff return by Dakota Pratt.
FW SNIDER 56, GOSHEN 16
GOSHEN — Mac Hippenhammer’s 98-yard kickoff return with 16 seconds left in the second quarter was the start of 35 unanswered points by the 5A No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Panthers, who claimed their 10th straight sectional title.
The RedHawks (8-3) had pulled within 21-16 after getting a 12-yard touchdown pass from CJ Detweiler to Devon Love with 30 seconds left before halftime.
An interception and 34-yard return by Alec Lehr set up the score. Goshen’s last lead of the game came at 9-7 when Detweiler scored on a 1-yard run with 11:08 left in the second quarter. The extra point went wide right.
Detweiler completed 21-of-37 passes for 201 yards with one TD and two interceptions. He had not thrown an interception in 186 attempts this season entering Friday’s game.
The Panthers (11-0) rushed for 340 yards and held the RedHawks to 88.
PENN 42, LAPORTE 21
LAPORTE — Second-ranked Penn claimed a 25th sectional sectional title with a victory over No. 8 LaPorte in Class 6A.
It was the fifth straight championship for the Kingsmen (11-0), who play at home against Crown Point in next week’s regional round. The Bulldogs held off a late Merrillville charge 24-19.
Rashid Maclin scored on runs of 1, 1 and 45 yards while Matt Kominkiewicz hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from James Iapalucci. Kominkiewicz also returned a kickoff 85 yards to set up an Iapalucci TD run.
Defensively for the Kingsmen, Paul Moala picked off a pair of Slicer passes. LaPorte finished 9-2, matching 2005 for the program's best record in the last 54 years.