WARSAW – For football fans who like offense, Fisher Field was the place to be Friday night.
The new turf playing surface sure got some kind of workout from the host Tigers and East Noble in its regular-season debut.
In the end, Dylan Hunley of the Knights turned it into his own “Field of Dreams” to spoil Senior Night for Warsaw.
Hunley, a 6-1, 180-pound senior, hauled in 14 receptions for 326 yards and four touchdowns as the Knights simply outscored the Tigers 47-42 in a video game like shootout.
East Noble quarterback Andrew McCormick completed 31-42 passes on the night for 452 yards and six touchdowns. The junior, for good measure, also ran for 89 yards and another touchdown.
The numbers were simply staggering as the two teams combined for 905 yards of total offense and 143 plays in the marathon matchup. The game, which took over three hours to play, also featured a total of 23 penalties for more than 200 yards from a flag-happy officiating crew.
Warsaw, which battled back with a 21-point fourth quarter, drops to 1-1. East Noble, which lost 48-0 to Class 6-A state power Cathedral in its opener, moves to 1-1. The Knights, who beat Warsaw 34-23 last season, have had 13 straight winning seasons (including 8-2 last year).
Warsaw quarterback Michael Jensen completed 20-35 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also ran for another touchdown. D’Andre Street had a sterling showing as the receiver nabbed 10 catches for 147 yards and a score for the Tigers. Mason Faas added a pair of short touchdown plunges for Warsaw.
The contest was not decided until the Knights recovered a Warsaw onside kick attempt with 25 seconds to play
“I’m so proud of these kids,” said Warsaw coach Phil Jensen after seeing his squad fight tooth and nail for the full 48 minutes. “What a great group I have. They never quit. They just battled the whole night. They could have folded and they never did. It just shows what kind of kids they are. What a great effort by them.”
The Tigers simply ran out of time in the end. That, and they simply had no answer at all for the McCormick to Hunley connection. The pair hooked up for scoring plays of 5, 19, 21 and 56 yards on the evening. Hunley had 51 receptions for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns during his junior season.
“That’s pretty good,” said Jensen in the understatement of the night and maybe the season in reference to Hunley’s staggering numbers.
East Noble built a 27-7 first-half lead on three scoring strikes by McCormick and a 30-yard touchdown run by the signal caller. Warsaw did cut the lead to 27-14 at halftime as Jensen hit Devin Street with an 18-yard scoring strike with 3:23 to play in the first half.
The Knights took the opening possession of the second half and went 80 yards, capped by a 21-yard scoring strike to Hunley to make it 34-14. Faas then scored on a two-yard run late in the quarter to cut the lead to 34-21.
The Tigers pulled within 34-28 with 8:36 to play after Jensen hit D’Andre Street with a gorgeous 46-yard scoring strike. McCormick had the answer again though as he hit Hunley on a 56-yard touchdown toss on a slant play to make it 40-28 less than a minute later. Warsaw continued to battle as a six-yard scoring run by Jensen with 4:16 to play made it 40-35.
East Noble refused to flinch after a Warsaw onside kick attempt went out of bounds with 4:13 left. McCormick hit Hunley for gains of 16 and 27 yards and capped it with a two-yard toss to Cade Erwin with 1:45 left to put the game away.
“Do I hate losing?, Yes,” said Jensen. “But I love the way we just kept battling tonight. You guys thought at halftime you were going to be writing about a blowout. Our defense kept playing. Our offense kept playing. Our special teams kept playing. And our coaches kept coaching.
“We have some things to get fixed, but if we bring this type of effort and attitude to the practice field every day we will be fine. Now, we just have to get ready to go play the NLC schedule, starting at Plymouth next week.”
Will McGarvey rushed for 87 yards on 19 carries to lead the Warsaw ground game. Jeremy David had five receptions for 30 yards for the Tigers.
Warsaw opens Northern Lakes Conference action at Plymouth and East Noble travels to Huntington North next Friday night.