TIPTON — The Tipton High School football team’s season came to an end on Friday night as Fort Wayne Bishop Luers defeated the host Blue Devils 36-17 in one of the two northern Class 2A regionals.
It’s the fourth time the Knights ousted the Blue Devils in the regional. The previous three (2010-12), they went on to win the Class 2A state championship. Luers (7-6) will host No. 3 Pioneer (12-1) in next week’s semistate. The Panthers defeated No. 1 Andrean 24-21 Friday night.
“We didn’t play our best [Friday], for whatever the reason,” Tipton coach Aaron Tolle said. “Part of the reason was them; they’re a very good football team.
“Turned the ball over a couple times and didn’t run the ball at all in the first half. Those are two of the things we couldn’t do to compete with them [Friday].”
Luers turned both Tipton turnovers into touchdowns.
The Blue Devils came out and moved the ball from their 35 to Luers’ 45 and faced a third-and-1. Eli Carter was tackled for a 4-yard loss and the Blue Devils were forced to punt.
“Again, we needed to be able to run the football and keep their offense off the field for obvious reasons, and we didn’t do it nearly as well as we needed to,” Tolle said.
The Blue Devil defense came up with its own big play as Luers moved the ball down to the Tipton 5 on its first possession. After three plays gained just two yards, the Knights went for it on fourth-and-goal. Tipton’s Gerardo Fortuna sacked Luers quarterback Carson Clark for a 9-yard loss and Tipton took over on downs.
The Devils were forced to punt again and on Luers’ second possession, Tipton’s Jayce Edwards intercepted Clark at the Blue Devil 22. Three plays later, Luers’ Sam Koehl intercepted Sam Edwards. A clipping penalty prevented it from being a pick six but Luers had the ball at the Tipton 19. Three plays later, Ramon Anderson scored on a 1-yard run as time ran out in the first quarter. Roel Pineda’s PAT kick gave the Knights a 7-0 lead.
Tipton moved the ball on its ensuing possession before getting stopped on a fourth-and-2. Once again, Carter got the handoff but was dropped for a 1-yard loss and Luers took over at its own 23. Tipton’s defense limited the Knights to Pineda’s 29-yard field goal that upped the lead to 10-0 at the 5:04 mark of the second quarter.
The Knights got into the end zone on their next possession with Clark throwing an 8-yard TD pass to Brody Glenn. Pineda’s PAT made it 17-0 with 1:05 left to play in the first half.
Jarrell Thomas then intercepted Sam Edwards at the Tipton 37 and Luers needed just one play — a 37-yard pass from Clark to Krashaun Menson — to extend the lead to 23-0 with :43 still left to play in the first half.
Enough time for Tipton to put together a drive that was aided by a pass interference penalty against Luers. Sam Edwards completed passes of 12 and 8 yards to Drew Pearce and a 13-yarder to twin brother Jayce Edwards. Tipton’s Cole Jackson then kicked a 28-yard field goal as time ran out in the first half to get Tipton on the board, 23-3.
Clark’s third TD pass of the game was a 22-yarder to Jayden Hill and upped Luers’ lead to 30-3 with 7:08 left to play in the third.
Tipton answered with seven-play, 50-yard drive, following Carter’s 42-yard kickoff return. The drive was capped by Sam Edwards’ 19-yard TD pass to Pearce. Jackson’s PAT cut the lead to 30-10 with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter.
But Luers responded with a seven-play, 70-yard drive capped by Clark’s 47-yard TD pass to Menson that upped the lead to 36-10.
Tipton scored its final TD of the night on its next possession. The Edwards twins hooked up on a 38-yard pass as the third quarter ended. The Blue Devils ran seven more plays with Carter, plunging into the end zone from the 1. Jackson’s PAT cut the lead to 36-17 with 8:47 remaining.
Luers got the ball with 8:39 remaining and was able to run it out.
Sam Edwards, who had not thrown an interception since throwing two in Tipton’s first game, was picked off twice. But he also managed to complete 15 of 24 passes for 162 yards and a TD. Pearce had 11 receptions for 95 yards and a TD and Jayce Edwards added two receptions for 51 yards.
Carter rushed 14 times for 37 yards and a TD. The 37 yards put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
“It’s unfortunate, but I told the kids: ‘I’ve never been prouder of a football team than I was of this one.’ They’ve battled adversity all year long, whether it was COVID or losing Jay [Lyons] in game two or whatever it might be,” Tolle said. “They can never take last weekend away from us, they can never take the sectional championship away from us and that team was very deserving.”
Clark, meanwhile, completed 18 of 25 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns and threw an interception.