Blake TC

Triton Central senior running back Jaquan Blake attempts to break a tackle Friday against Evansville Mater Dei. The Tigers fell to the Wildcats, 35-7.

FAIRLAND — For the third consecutive year, Triton Central and Evansville Mater Dei went head-to-head in the 2A IHSAA Regional. Despite an impressive run through the sectional by the Tigers, Mater Dei junior running back Joey Pierre torched Triton Central for 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns Friday, which helped the No. 7 Wildcats earn a 35-7 win.

The wind caused havoc for the Tigers in the first half as numerous three-and-outs, with punts landing in TC territory, gave Mater Dei tremendous field position.

Triton Central head coach Tim Able knew that Mater Dei was going to be present a tough challenge given the Wildcats’ size and the opponents they played during the regular season.

“This was a game where Mater Dei had more size and strength,” Able said. “They play in a tough league with numerous 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A schools – and they are traditionally a tough program.”

After the first three-and-out by the Tigers to start the game, Pierre and the Wildcats took the ball 39 yards in just five plays for their first score of the game. The drive was capped off by Pierre finding the end zone from four yards out, giving Mater Dei a 7-0 with 9:40 left in the first quarter.

The rushing attack from the Wildcats continued on their next drive as Pierre busted a run for 25 yards to start the possession. Five plays later, Mater Dei junior quarterback Mason Wunderlich completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Eli McDurmon, which gave the Wildcats a 14-0 advantage midway through the first quarter.

Mater Dei scored three more touchdowns in the first half, including a nifty 55-yard touchdown run by Pierre, which gave the Wildcats a 35-0 lead with two minutes left in the second quarter.

Despite trailing the entire game, the Tigers continued to show fight in the second half. Able said he is proud of his players for how they grew since the start of the season. He knows the young and talented group will need to put in work over the offseason.

“We know that we are a young team,” Able said. “We have come a long way since the start of the season, but we still have to get stronger in the weight room. We have to come back next year as a stronger team. And we will.”

With less than a minute to go in the game, Triton Central had one last opportunity to put points on the board. Sophomore quarterback Jace Stuckey set the Tigers up with a 15-yard run with 30 seconds left. Senior running back Jaquan Blake followed with a 12-yard rush inside of 30 seconds. Just as time expired, Stuckey found sophomore receiver Anthony Dunville for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Blake was happy with how he and his TC teammates came together right before their tournament run.

“We came together as a team,” Blake said. “Us talking, game planning and making sure we execute – so that we could make the best of our opportunities.”

Triton Central, which returns its core group of players next season, finished with an 8-5 record.

Mater Dei improved to 11-2 with its eighth consecutive win. The Wildcats will play Indianapolis Scecina (10-3) in semistate action.

Justin Powell is a sports correspondent for The Shelbyville News. Follow Justin on Twitter @Justin_Powell24.