MISHAWAKA — Stunned and devastated doesn’t do justice to describe the atmosphere in the Penn locker room Friday night. After a 14-13 loss to Carroll at Freed Field, the football season for the Kingsmen is over — ending before the sectional championship round for the first time since 1990. Both teams had plenty of chances in the nip-and-tuck game. The Kingsmen had the final opportunity, but kicker Riley Vandevoorde’s 41-yard field goal try fell wide left with 1.4 seconds left. “Coaching is the greatest job in the world ... except when this happens,” Penn coach Cory Yeoman said after his team’s last gasp field goal attempt fell left. “It’s a terrible feeling for the kids; it just rips your heart out.” Carroll’s Drew Tranquill actually may have had the biggest hand in ripping Penn’s heart out as he scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter, then hauled in a tipped pass over two Penn defenders for what proved to be the winning 54-yard TD reception late in the third quarter. “In Penn, there’s not a better program in the northern half of Indiana,” Carroll coach Doug Dinan said amongst a jubulient celebration on his team’s sideline. “It was all about the resiliance of our seniors to come here and get the job done.” The Carroll offense kept the Penn defense off balance in the first half, alternating formations with Tranquill and starter Christian Terry switching off at quarterback. Carroll took the opening kickoff and needed only four plays to score — that coming on Tranquill’s 12-yard run. Carroll had other scoring opportunities in the first half, but were stymied by penalties and a turnover inside the Penn 10-yard line on the fourth play of the second quarter. “We had to give them as many looks as we could,” Dinan said. “With their strength and speed, we had to be better up front.” Penn pulled within 7-6 when quarterback Zach Oakley hit Cory Krieger on a 4-yard scoring pass that capped a 93-yard drive with just 35 seconds left before halftime. However, a penalty on the extra-point attempt led to Vandevoorde missing wide. It appeared it wouldn’t matter, however, as Penn came out in the second half, took advantage of a 22-yard run by up-back Matt Hummel on a fake punt that put the Kingsmen in business at the Carroll 18. Oakley ran in on the next play for a 13-7 lead. Carroll’s offense went backwards for the rest of the quarter, until it faced a second-and-16 at its own 46 with a minute left. At that point, Terry lofted a deep pass toward Tranquill that two Penn defenders tipped before Tranquill came up with it and ran the final 20 yards to the end zone. “We had a couple of guys there and (Tranquill) made a play,” Yeoman said. “We played a lot better on defense in the second half, but he made a play.” Penn had a trio of three-and-out possessions after that and didn’t get the ball for its final possession until Tranquill’s punt rolled out of bounds at the Kingsmen 8 with :50.1 left. Oakley, who finished 8 of 20 for 137 yards, had several of his passes drop off the finger tips of his receivers all night. On the final drive, however, he converted a third down with a 26-yard completion to Nate Miller with 20.6 left. A pass interference penalty three plays later set up Penn at its 46, before Oakley hit Travis Nethercutt at the Carroll 28 with 15.3 left. After killing the clock, Oakley then found Krieger on a 4-yard out pattern to stop the clock with 5.9 left, setting up Vandevoorde’s kick. “This wasn’t about one play at the end,” Yeoman said. “Riley hit the kick a ton and into the wind. He’s hit a 42-yarder before this.“I’m proud of our effort and our resiliance,” Yeoman continued. “I’m proud of the seniors and how they led the team and how they never quit and played with class and dignity up until the end.” Penn’s last loss before a sectional final came to Snider — an 18-17, overtime loss in 1990. Ironically, that came was also played on Oct. 26.
Last updated: October 26, 2012 11:46 p.m.
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