Merrillville scores early, often in regional blowout over FW Carroll
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent November 9, 2012 11:26PM
Merrillville's Cleveland Lomax shakes the hand of teammate Adam Neal after defeating Ft. Wayne Carroll 50-21 at Merrillville High School on Friday November 9, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 11, 2012 6:14AM
MERRILLVILLE — Merrillville coach Zac Wells boiled quarterback Jake Raspopovich’s performance against Fort Wayne Carroll on Friday night down to three words.
“He’s a stud,” Wells said.
Carroll probably won’t argue.
The Pirates senior signal caller threw for 256 first-half yards and three touchdown passes, and ran for another score, in the Pirates’ 50-21 win over Fort Wayne Carroll in their Class 5A regional matchup, giving the Pirates their third regional title in seven seasons under Wells.
And the Pirates nearly had a date with former coach Rick Wimmer and Fishers in next week’s semistate. But instead Merrillville will travel to Fort Wayne Snider next Friday. Snider was a come-from-behind 36-35 winner over the Tigers on Friday night.
Merrillville dominated from the start, when Raspopovich connected with Aaron Dye for a 46-yard touchdown pass, to the end of the first half when Tyrie Fuller ran in from a yard out to send both teams to the locker room with the Pirates leading 36-0.
For the game, Raspopovich was 13-for-18 for 264 yards before calling it a night midway in the third quarter
“It feels great to bring the regional title back to Merrillville,” said Raspopovich, who threw for more yards in one half Friday than his game total of 200 yards in their sectional final game against Crown Point last week. “Being a senior, we had to come out with the ‘W’ in our last home game.
“And our defense had a great game today.”
The defense certainly had a better game than it did the week before in the sectional final against Crown Point. The Pirates led 17-0 at the half in that game, only to let the Bulldogs cut the lead to 17-14 in the fourth quarter. This time, though Pirates defense saw to it that the Chargers offense, which scored more than 45 points six times this season, would be shut down just enough to end any signs of second-half drama.
“There’s nothing that happens here without a team effort,” said Wells. “We’re really fortunate to have kids and coaches who are putting in the time and the effort.”
The first-half defensive effort by Merrillville was almost purple people eater-like. The Pirates held Carroll to 58 yards and five first downs. As a matter of fact, the Chargers completed more passes to Merrillville defenders than they did to their own receivers with Carroll 0-for-9 passing with one Pirates interception.
“As a team we stuck together and we were firing on all cylinders,” said Raspopovich. “I’m just so proud of the guys and how we played today.”.
Brian Jenkins scored twice for the Pirates, both on passes from Raspopovich of 65 and 12 yards.
The Pirates will take a four-game winning streak to Fort Wayne.