Merrillville fans have grown accustomed to high-scoring football games this season.
So it was no surprise when Friday's Class 5A Northern Semistate between the Pirates and Fort Wayne Snider at Fort Wayne Wayne High School reached halftime with 58 points on the scoreboard.
The Pirates scored at least 38 points in nine of their first 13 games and hit the half-century mark on four other occasions. On the flip side, they also gave up 35 points or more in five games.
The Merrillville defense that had tightened up over the last three weeks put up little resistance against the Panthers in the first half. After an opening-possession punt, Snider scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions.
Merrillville, returning to the semistate for the first time since 2009, got a big first half from a hard-running Dylon Collins, but had some catching up to do after the break as it headed to the locker room down 35-23.
An estimated 500-plus fans of the purple made the 2 1/2-hour trip to Fort Wayne.
Back in the region, Andrean suffered a similar fate, losing 35-21 at home against Fort Wayne Luers.
Down 35-14, Andrean quarterback Matt DeSomer scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the game. Then, kicker Matt Anderson kicked a perfect onside kick that the 59ers recovered. But in the end it was too much Jaylon Smith, Luers' All-American who sacked DeSomer to end the game.
"Our kids never stopped fighting," Andrean coach Phil Mason said. "That's a great team we played tonight. I felt like we were one or two plays from being right there."