Carroll falls to Center Grove 35-9 in Class 6A state championship game

Carroll sophomore quarterback fumbles while being taken down to the ground during the third quarter of the Class 6A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium between the Chargers and Center Grove. (Photo by Chad Ryan)

Friday’s Class 6A state championship game started off well for Carroll.

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Chargers drove down the field on 12 plays and moved inside of Center Grove’s 15-yard line.

The drive stalled and Carroll had to settle for a Sebastian Lopez field goal, but it felt like only the beginning for the Chargers’ offense.

Turns out, that was all the points Carroll would be able to muster in a 35-9 rout at the hands of the Trojans at Lucas Oil Stadium, the third-straight state championship earned by Center Grove.

Over the course of four quarters, the Trojans showed that they had the superior team in all facets. Center Grove finished with 439 total yards to Carroll’s 255 while forcing the Chargers to punt six times, including four three and outs.

Meanwhile, the vaunted Chargers defense had its hands full. It continually lost outside contain as the Trojans were able to seal the edge and allow its ball carriers to consistently turn the corner. Center Grove rushed for 302 yards on the night.

Meanwhile, Carroll quarterback Jimmy Sullivan was hounded all night, being brought down five times for sacks. The Chargers had just 77 yards rushing, 60 of which came from Sullivan.

Following the Lopez field goal to put the Chargers in front early, it took Center Grove less than two minutes to answer when Tyler Cherry on a rollout hit Jalen Thomeson who turned the corner and disappeared for a 64-yard touchdown.

It was the first of five unanswered touchdowns by the Trojans (12-2), each scored by a different player.

After scoring on its initial drive, Carroll punted four straight times and went into the halftime break trailing 21-3. Center Grove added to its lead before the Chargers ended the drought in the closing minutes when Ethan Springer hit Cam Herschberger for a 26-yard touchdown. Springer had entered a few plays before for an injured Sullivan, who had to be helped from the field after a long scramble put Carroll in position to score its first and only touchdown of the game.

Sullivan threw for 136 yards and rushed for 60 more in the loss. Center Grove had a pair of running backs eclipse the 100-yard mark for the game – Micah Coyle with 132 yards on 26 carries and Jalen Thomeson with 128 yards on 20 touches.

Carroll ends the season 13-1 and despite the loss became the first team from northeast Indiana to advance to the state championship game in Class 6A.

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