INDIANAPOLIS – East Noble’s quest for a second state championship in program history ended with a 21-3 loss to Evansville Memorial in the Class 4A State Championship game on Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After leading 3-0 after two quarters, the Tigers erupted for 21 points after the break, putting halftime changes to their advantage to hold the Knights scoreless over the final two quarters.
East Noble lost junior Justin Marcellus to an apparent shoulder injury midway through the second quarter. After a short run to the outside, Marcellus was taken down hard onto his right shoulder. The junior who entered the game having rushed for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns did not return.
Joe Painter attempted to give the Knights (14-1) the lead with a 35-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but the exchange between center and holder was a little off, leading to a miss on the attempt.
Painter finally broke the deadline in the final seconds of the first half. After Evansville Memorial was whistled for a pass interference on 4th and goal at the 21, East Noble elected to kick a field goal on 4th and goal at the 10. Painter converted for the 3-0 Knights lead, an advantage that East Noble took into halftime.
On the first drive of the second half, Evansville Memorial was bit by the injury bug when two-way stud Brock Combs exited the game after being tackled, but the senior returned after just a few plays out.
Memorial scored twice in less than two minutes late in the third quarter to take control of the game. Colton Pence hit Will Brackett on a reverse pass play for a six-yard touchdown that put the Tigers up 7-3 with a little less than four minutes left in the quarter.
Barely 90 seconds later following a Parker interception that was returned to the 2 yard line, Combs scored from a yard out to put Memorial up 14-3.
East Noble had a chance to get back into the game early in the fourth. After a short punt set up the Knights at the Memorial 41, Parker hit Brett Christian that gave East Noble a 1st-and-goal inside the 5-yard line. But Parker was picked off in the end zone on third down.
A blocked punt by Leyth Al-Mohammedawi gave East Noble prime field position with less than four minutes remaining, setting up the Knights around the Memorial 30-yard line. But that drive ended on a turnover on downs without East Noble picking up a single first down.
Memorial then clinched their second state championship in three years with a 65-yard romp by Combs right up the gut with less than three minutes left.
Parker was knocked around and punished for four quarters, with the senior visibly in anguish multiple times after hits. He finished with 140 yards of total offense, but completed just seven passes and averaged 2.7 yards per rush while throwing four interceptions
Evansville Memorial (13-1) held East Noble to just 61 total yards in the second half while amassing 212 yards of its own.