No. 2 Merrillville 20, No. 3 Lake Central 17 | DJ Wilkins throws for 289 yards and three touchdowns to lead Pirates

Pirates clinch at least a share of DAC title

2013-10-11T23:30:00Z 2013-10-12T01:51:05Z Pirates clinch at least a share of DAC titlePaul Trembacki Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 11, 2013 11:30 pm  • 

ST. JOHN | An intimidating, big-band, senior-night atmosphere with the right to the driver’s seat in the conference race did not deter DJ Wilkins or his teammates.

In a reverse of the cliche “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Merrillville started well and made enough plays on defense down the stretch to escape Lake Central with a 20-17 Duneland Athletic Conference win over the Indians.

The Times No. 2 Pirates beat the No. 3 Indians for the 16th consecutive time dating back to 2002. They also clinched at least a share of the DAC title.

Billed as a potential defensive stalemate, the game had two touchdowns in the first 96 seconds and a third when the game was barely seven minutes old.

The huge, vaunted defenses eventually stepped up and made running nearly impossible for both tailbacks, and turnovers and field position created a shaky ground down to the final two minutes when Merrillville was able to kneel the ball comfortably.

After the teams came out of halftime tied at 14, Merrillville scored on its first possession of the half, to go up 20-14 following a missed kick.

The Pirates (7-1, 6-0) opened the game with a three-play scoring drive capped by a 69-yard bomb from sophomore quarterback DJ Wilkins to Tyrie Fuller. On their third possession the Pirates struck again, with Fuller hitting Jonathan Robinson for a 61-yard touchdown pass and a 14-7 lead.

“Had that not happened early in the game, for sure, it would have been a tough thing to come back from,” Merrillville coach Zac Wells said. “(Lake Central had) a good defense, but I think the one thing our offense did was they came off the bus pretty well and ready to play. We just need to maintain the consistency a little bit. We’re getting to the point in the season that that should be the expectation.”

Wilkins threw for 289 yards and three scores, the last one to Robinson for the junior’s second of the night and what turned out to be the game-winner with 8:43 to go in the third quarter.

Fuller had seven catches for 142 yards and Robinson had three for 89 with the two touchdowns.

Neither team eclipsed 80 yards rushing on the night.

Lake Central (6-2, 5-1) answered Merrillville’s first score with a nine-yard touchdown from Ethan Darter to John Gbur, but Darter was 17-for-38 passing and misfired on 10 of his final 12 attempts in the clutch before a Hail Mary completion past midfield on the game’s final play.

"We had some issues up front with them," Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain said of the Indians forgoing the run in the second half and throwing much more than normal. "(Ethan Darter) will get better from situations like this. When you play in games like this you will learn from it. We're riding with him right now."

Alec Olund made some cameos at quarterback. Last year’s starter ran for an 18-yard touchdown with 8:33 to go in the first half to tie the game.

Lake Central halved Merrillville’s lead when Jillian Doan kicked a 27-yard field goal with 5:26 to go, but the Indians couldn’t overcome three interceptions and rampant incompletions in the passing game.

Merrillville had a chance to increase its lead with 2:24 to go, but a 28-yard field goal attempt went wide left. Four straight incompletions by the Indians gave Merrillville the ball and the victory formation opportunity.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best boys cross country team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News

Latest Local Offers

Featured Businesses