Four INTs put the Wolves behind the eight ball at semistate
NEW PALESTINE, Ind. — Michigan City had to be nearly perfect to have a chance Saturday against New Palestine.
The Wolves weren’t.
The Dragons defeated Michigan City 35-10 in a Class 5A semistate game.
Four interceptions hurt the Wolves (10-3). Two of those interceptions were off tipped passes.
Zennon Wilhelm, who caught five passes for 136 yards, said it was one of those games where nothing went Michigan City’s way.
“Some unfortunate things happened,” he said. “(Two) of those interceptions were tipped. It was bad luck. I think we are evenly matched skill wise. I don’t think the score shows how evenly matched we were.”
There was a brief window for Michigan City after the Wolves took a 10-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Lyric McFarrin with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
The Wolves drove deep into Dragon territory on their next possession but turned the ball over on downs.
New Palestine (13-0), which is ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press, scored on a 76-yard pass from Zach Neligh to Ryker Large with 9:02 left in the second quarter. That gave the Dragons a 14-10 lead.
New Palestine scored its first TD on a 46-yard interception return by Maxen Hook in the first quarter.
Michigan City answered with a field goal and McFarrin’s TD.
After Michigan City trailed the second time, it was over. The Wolves had to try to keep up with the hurry-up offense that New Palestine favored.
It didn’t work.
New Palestine took a 21-10 lead into halftime after a 15-yard TD
“I’m not happy we lost, but I’m grateful that I got to go through this season with my team.”
— Lyric McFarrin, Michigan City
run by Charlie Spegal with 3:47 left in the second quarter. Spegal made it 28-10 with an 11-yard run with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
Spegal, the state’s leading rusher, finished with 190 yards on 25 carries.
Michigan City coach Phil Mason said his team needed to control the clock offensively.
“Their no-huddle offense forced us to go into a tempo I wasn’t comfortable with,” he said. “I wanted to keep it close. If it was close, I thought we’d have a chance to win.
“When we got behind in the second half, it forced us to pick up the tempo.”
Mason defended quarterback Bryce Hayman, saying he “played his butt off. It wasn’t his fault.”
Despite the disappointing loss, it was still a good year, McFarrin said.
“I’m not happy we lost, but I’m grateful that I got to go through this season with my team,” he said. “I’m grateful for the ability God gave me to play football.
“I don’t enjoy losing. I enjoy being in the position to make an effort. A lot of people sitting at home would do anything to have opportunity. To even come up short is a blessing.”
Michigan City’s Robert Jefferson hits New Palestine’s Zach Neligh during the second half of the Class 5A semistate game on Saturday.