FORT WAYNE – Bishop Dwenger rode an early advantage to its second straight sectional championship Friday.
The Saints jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter en route to a 33-13 win over East Noble in the finals of a Class 4A sectional at Saint Francis.
Dwenger (9-3) plays host to New Haven (11-1) next Friday in the regional championship.
The 16-0 first-quarter lead was more than enough for the Saints, who have won sectional titles in nine of the last 10 seasons.
"We love getting the momentum because once you have that on your side, it gives you that much more drive," said Dwenger senior running back Tyler Tippmann, who had two rushing touchdowns.
. Tippmann ran for 68 yards, Ryan Cinadr had 74 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Mike Fiacable threw for 113 yards and a touchdown to Gabriel Espinoza and ran for 62 yards.
"That's what is nice about having the balanced offense," Tippmann said. "You have them on their heels, and they don't know what to expect, and they get tired and wear down."
The lead, though, for Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf was never big enough.
"We needed them all," Svarczkopf said of the points. "They are so dangerous with (Brandon) Mable and everybody else. That's a good team we played, so we are happy."
East Noble (9-3) had a brief glimmer of hope when Dylan Jordan's 34-yard interception return cut the lead to 16-6 in the third quarter.
"Our attitude was we had to step it up and not let them back in the game and give it all we have," Tippmann said. "It's senior year, and (the sectional title) is a great thing. I have only dreamed about this stuff, and it has only just begun. We are going to just keep moving."
The early deficit proved too much for East Noble to overcome. The Knights were also hurt by two first-half turnovers, a lost fumble and an interception.
"Any time you give a team some momentum, and we allowed them to hit some big plays … everybody knows we weren't this year the dynamic team who could come back from a large deficit," East Noble coach Luke Amstutz said. "For us to win this game and our style of offense and defense, we needed this to be a 21-14 type game. Once we got down ... I don't think we panicked. But we couldn't get the big stop or the onside kick, and they converted some big first downs when it was important."
Mable ran for 155 yards for the Knights but quarterback Bryce Wolfe completed only 6 of 21 passes for 36 yards.
"They were physical, but we wanted to show them who the real physical team was tonight," Dwenger senior defensive back Ryan Watercutter said. "It's a change of mindset. We limited our two-way players.
"(The early lead) gives us a lot of momentum. They were all hype coming out. So we had to take the lead and shut them up."
Only in 2011 did Dwenger fail to win a sectional title since 2002.
"They wanted to be sectional champions, and now we have another week to get better," Svarczkopf said.