TIPTON | It wasn’t how Rensselaer wanted its season to end Friday night at Tipton.
It was all Blue Devils as the hosts shut out the Bombers 27-0 in the Class 2A northern semistate to earn a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium for next week’s state championship.
Tipton (11-3) will face Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter for the 2A state title next Saturday.
“Tipton is very deserving, a great football team,” Rensselaer coach Chris Meeks said. “I think they will challenge for that state championship next week.”
It was Rensselaer’s third loss at the semistate in three tries, all coming since 2009.
“Our big-time players just didn’t step to the plate tonight,” Meeks said.
The Bombers (11-3) had their best opportunity in the opening quarter when they recovered a muffed punt at the Blue Devil 30-yard line. A holding penalty in the backfield thwarted the scoring opportunity.
“We needed to capitalize right there and put pressure on them,” Meeks said. “All night long we didn’t put pressure on them at all.
“I thought our defense hung in there, and they just wore down at the end. Offensively, we didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
Tipton’s dual threat quarterback Austin Hooker ran for all four touchdowns and the 6-foot-2 senior finished with 79 yards rushing to go along with 162 yards passing.
“It wasn’t so much me coming back, but the whole team just changed their mindset,” said Hooker, who missed three regular season games with an injury including a 9-7 loss at Rensselaer on Sept. 13. “That’s what really did it for us tonight. (Rensselaer) is a great team, a great history with their school.
“They don’t give up until the time is out.”
Hooker scored his first of two first-half touchdowns with an 11-yard run with 2 minutes and 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Nate Hein’s 38-yard run set up the score.
Tipton scored again when Hooker snuck in from a yard out for a 14-0 count with 3:20 left in the second quarter.
Rensselaer moved the ball on the ensuing drive all the way to the Tipton 18-yard line before a sack pushed it back. Luke Roberton’s 43-yard field goal attempt was just short with eight seconds left in the first half.
Hooker added TD runs in each the third and fourth quarters.
Rylan Arihood finished with 95 yards rushing, including a 55-yard run in the second half.
Dylan Wright added 55 yards rushing but competed just 2 of 22 passes for 24 yards.
“We have a whole lot of underclassmen playing tonight,” Meeks said. “There’s a lot of juniors, and they got a taste of it. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be back here next year.”