KENDALLVILLE – It only took 48 seconds for East Noble to score on DeKalb in its second-round sectional meeting Friday, and not much longer before the Knights squashed any hope of a Barons upset in an eventual 42-14 win.
"We've been busting our butts all year to get here, where we are, and we need to move into next week with a new mindset," East Noble quarterback Bailey Parker said after he and his teammates clinched a spot in the sectional title game against Leo.
"All week we've been working on (DeKalb's) defensive front, studying them, and our offensive line came out and dominated the first drive. Wide receivers making good blocks and good runs by (Justin) Marcellus and good catches by receivers like Gage (Ernsberger), Hayden (Jones) and Nick (Munson)."
Parker ripped off a long run in the second play of the game that brought the Knights to the 10-yard line, then ran it into the end zone on the next play.
Four minutes into the game, the Knights capped off another drive with a 13-yard pass from Parker to Jones, who looked like he would be tackled at around the 1-yard line, but stretched the football over the goal line.
But the hits didn't stop there for DeKalb. The Barons tried to punt from their own half of the field, but the punter fumbled the snap and had to scurry backwards to land on top of the ball, giving East Noble excellent field position to score once more, this time on a pass from Parker to Brett Christian.
With two minutes left in the first quarter, Parker once again broke through the DeKalb defense, this time running 54 yards for a touchdown. And just like that, the Knights were up 28-0.
It looked like DeKalb finally caught a break early in the second quarter when Parker, pinned up against the East Noble end zone, appeared to have the ball knocked out of his hand and the Barons defense recovered the ball in the end zone. But the touchdown was called back when the refs ruled the play an incomplete pass instead of a fumble.
Parker fumbled a snap later in that drive, putting the Knights at 3rd down and 24, but back-to-back pass interference and encroachment calls on DeKalb put the Knights at 3rd and 4, and on that play Parker threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jones.
With a 35-point Knights lead at halftime, the entire second half was played with a running clock. The Barons used almost all of the third quarter to mount a drive that concluded with a 3-yard run by Tanner Jack.
Parker, who finished with 271 passing yards and 119 rushing yards, threw his final touchdown pass to Nick Munson for 10 yards early in the fourth quarter.
The Barons made the score a little more respectable with a 40-yard pass from Evan Eshbach to Caleb Nixon and then a 23-yard touchdown pass to Easton Rhodes.
"Our kids have been through so much, they've been through the ups and downs of losing over their careers," East Noble coach Luke Amstutz said. "They've won a lot of games, and they've lost some heartbreakers, and they don't want that to happen right now. They just want to compete, they want to win."