MERRILLVILLE | Speed kills, as the cliche goes.
Merrillville showed just how much an advantage in team speed can do for a football team in its 50-21 dismantling of Fort Wayne Carroll Friday night.
"We just executed well early," coach Zac Wells said. "We've played well enough to win (in the playoffs) and that's all that counts right now."
Once a ball carrier in black and purple got a little space, it was over. The result was big plays of 25, 45, 65 and 54 yards.
Brian Jenkins played a big role. The senior wideout finished with 132 yards on seven catches with two touchdowns.
"I just came in mentally prepared," Jenkins said. "All we had to do is keep the tempo up and run."
The Pirates (10-2) got things started early. Jake Raspopovich hit Aaron Dye with a 45-yard touchdown strike down the seam on the game's third play.
The Chargers (10-2) gave it right back when Ryan Neal intercepted his eighth pass of the season. That play led to a 36-yard Matt Warren field goal and Merrillville never looked back.
The next Carroll possession ended when Cleveland Lomax blocked the Chargers' punt. A few minutes later, Bryant Isabell plunged in from two yards to make it 15-0 Merrillville.
Then came the biggest play of the night. Raspopovich found Jenkins down the middle for a demoralizing 65-yard score that let all the air out of the Chargers' sails.
It was 36-0 by the break, when Merrillville held a 346-80 advantage in total yards.
"You never expect this kind of margin at this level," Wells said. "We were subbing in the third quarter."
Raspopovich finished with 368 total yards, 267 passing and 101 on the ground, and four total touchdowns.
The best play of the night may have been Dylon Collins' 10-yard run, during which he broke multiple tackles and scampered into the end zone in the third quarter.
Carroll got its points late on Christian Perry passes to Justin and Anthony Tranquill of 29 and eight yards, respectively, and a 3-yard Anthony Tranquill run.
"There won't be a letdown. We learned from last year," Jenkins said. "We just have to take it one game at a time."