Boys Varsity Football · Football falls in sectional final

The fifth-ranked New Palestine football team dropped a 48-13 decision Friday to No. 4 Whiteland in the Class 5A Sectional 14 final.

The Dragons finish the season with an 8-2 record, the program’s eighth consecutive season with at least eight wins and the 11th such season in the last 12 years.

Lincoln Roth ran for a touchdown and threw a 25-yard score to Blake Austin, but the Dragons couldn’t overcome four turnovers and an early 21-point deficit. The Dragons were outgained 400-168 in the contest.

After forcing a three-and-out on NP’s first possession, Whiteland drove 48 yards in nine plays to take an early 7-0 lead, then added two more scores in the game’s first 13 minutes – a 42-yard run after a Dragon drive stalled in Warrior territory and a 3-yard run after a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.

NP went into halftime trailing 21-0, but the Warriors scored two touchdowns in 40 seconds to extend the lead. Whiteland began the half with a 13-play, 6:17 drive that was extended by a fourth-down penalty. Two plays later, the Warriors eturned an interception for a score to take a 34-0 lead.

Roth engeineered a nine-play, 65-yard drive and capped it with a 4-yard TD run to cut the deficit to 34-7 with 1:41 left in the third, but Whiteland again scored twice in the fourth before a late 64-yard drive which Roth capped with a 25-yard strike to Austin on the Dragons’ final offensive play.

Notes: The game marked the Dragons’ seventh sectional championship game appearance in eight years and just their third sectional loss in that time frame. …Roth finished his career with 3,007 passing yards, making him the sixth player in NPHS history to throw for 3,000 yards in a career. His 2020 season total of 1416 yards was 13th-most in school history. … Austin finished his career with 1,328 receiving yards, fourth-most in school history. His 845 yards this season were sixth-most in a year. He also tallied six receptions, giving him 80 for his career – fourth-most in school history – and 54 for the season, the third-most. … Thomas, the first freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a Dragon uniform, finished the year with 1,101 yards. … The 35-point margin was the Dragons’ biggest defeat since a 49-14 loss to Columbus East in the 2013 semistate.

IHSAA Class 5A Sectional 14 final
At James Sleighter Field, Whiteland

New Palestine (8-2)  0 – 0 – 7 – 6 — 13
Whiteland (9-1)   14 – 7 – 13 – 14 — 48
Scoring summary
W-Kunz 4 run (Dawalt kick), 6:57
W-Crowley 42 run (Dawalt kick), 2:00
W-Valentine 3 run (Dawalt kick), 11:11
W-Valentine 4 run (kick failed), 5:43
W-Welling 45 interception return (Dawalt kick), 5:03
NP-Roth 4 run (Tanksley kick), 1:41
W-DeBaun 49 pass from Kunz (Dawalt kick), 11:53
W-Sullivan 7 pass from Kunz (Dawalt kick), 6:16
NP-Austin 25 pass from Roth (kick failed), 2:16

Team stats
First downs: NP 11, W 19
Rushes-yards: NP 28-92, W 54-344
Passing C-A-I: NP 10-19-1, W 2-4-0
Passing yards: NP 76, W 56
Total plays-yards: NP 47-168, W 58-400
Fumbles-lost: NP 3-3, W 2-1
Punts-avg: NP 3-38.7, W 1-37.0
Time of possession: NP 18:21, W 29:39

Individual stats
New Palestine
Rushing: Thomas 15-45, Roth 12-35, Da.Spegal 1-12
Passing: Roth 10-19-1-76
Receiving: Austin 6-44, Brown 3-24, Byers 1-8

Rushing: Valentine 27-154, Crowley 7-81, Singleton 10-69, Kunz 6-26, Murray 2-9, Emberton 1-6, team 1-(-2)
Passing: Kunz 2-4-0-56
Receiving: DeBaun 1-49, Sullivan 1-7