Warsaw junior Ross Armey sacks East Noble quarterback Bryce Wolfe during the first half of Friday night's game at Fisher Field. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Warsaw junior Ross Armey sacks East Noble quarterback Bryce Wolfe during the first half of Friday night's game at Fisher Field. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
As his team trailed East Noble 17-0 in the first quarter, and then 24-7 in the second quarter Friday night, Warsaw football coach Phil Jensen said there was doubt on the sideline.
What he didn’t see in his players, however, was the attitude of a quitter.
Hosting the Class 4A No. 8 Knights at Fisher Field, the Tigers – wearing their new orange uniforms – used big plays in all three phases of the game in the second half en route to a thrilling 25-24 win on Senior Night.
“There was some doubt, but there was no quit,” said an excited Jensen when asked about the mood on the sideline when the team was in a 17-point hole.
“This team is really close,” he added. “They’re goofy, but they’re close. They believe in each other.”
Two plays after Warsaw senior Brett Fancil came up with his third interception – all of which came in the second half – Tiger quarterback Jake Mangas threw a 45-yard pass to fellow senior Ethyn Bradley.
After two runs by Bradley, Mangas carried the ball into the end zone from four yards out, cutting East Noble’s lead to 24-23 with 1:45 remaining in the game.
With momentum clearly on his team’s side, Jensen decided to go for a two-point conversion and the lead, rather than tie the game with an extra-point kick.
On the conversion play, Mangas scrambled around to elude East Noble defenders and keep the play alive. Rolling to his right, Mangas found 6-foot-2 junior receiver Brock Riley, who made the catch and brought Warsaw’s fans to their feet.
“The defense played great in the second half,” said Jensen, whose team improved to 1-1 on the season. “It was like night and day. Kris Hueber, our defense coordinator, came up to me before we scored the touchdown and said ‘when we score let’s go for 2.’”
In last week’s season opener at Columbia City, the Tigers trailed 13-0, rallied to take a 14-13 lead, but ended up losing 33-21.
Friday night against the state-ranked Knights, Warsaw found its stride in the second half and finished the job.
“To be down 17-0 was really tough,” said Mangas, a top-five student in the senior class, as well as a standout basketball player for coach Doug Ogle. “We kept our composure on that final drive. I knew we had to score.”
Asked about the identity he and his teammates are building, that of a squad that won’t quit, Mangas said “we’re trying to change things around here, we’re not going to give up, we’re going to keep our composure.”
Mangas completed 14 of 28 passes for 272 yards and a score. He threw two interceptions, but with his team trailing 24-10 late in the third quarter, Mangas threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Riley Rhoades.
Rhoades’ score trimmed East Noble’s lead to 24-17.
In two games, Mangas has thrown for 533 yards and three touchdowns.
In 10 games last season, running an offense centered around standout running back Tristan McClone, now-graduated quarterback Austin Head threw for 737 yards and six scores.
“Jake did a great job tonight stepping up in the pocket,” Jensen said of his 6-3, 180-pound signal caller. “He also made a heck of a play to get in the end zone on that last touchdown. He didn’t give up.”
Neither did Bradley, his senior teammate who carried the ball 14 times for 85 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown, caught three passes for 68 yards, and made 10 tackles from his spot in the defensive secondary.
“I shared this with the kids ... in my office the other day I found a picture of our undefeated team (from 2001),” said Jensen, as Warsaw’s players, administrators and fans celebrated on the field. “That team looks a lot like this team. The difference is what that team had inside. I hope the second half tonight helps with our confidence.”
Rhoades led Warsaw’s receivers with six catches for 148 yards, while Riley hauled in three passes for 54 yards.
East Noble’s Bryce Wolfe completed 10 of 19 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown.
After completing the first six passes he threw Friday night, Wolfe wasn’t nearly as effective in the second half and was picked off three times by Fancil.
Dillon Fuller led the Knights on the ground with 25 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns, while Nolan Wilbe rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries.
East Noble, which fell to 1-1 on the season, opens Northeast Hoosier Conference play at Homestead Friday.
The Tigers open NLC action Friday with a trip to Plymouth.
“Being 1-1 is a heck of a lot better than 0-2,” said Jensen.

EN    17    7    0    0    —    24
W    0    10     7    8     —    25

    EN    W
1st downs    15    14
Rushing yds    165    105
Passing yds    117    272
Comp-Att-Int    10-22-3    14-29-2
Total yds    282    377
Fumbles/lost    3/0    1/1
Penalties/yds    7/45    6/40
Punts/avg    4/33    6/22

First Quarter
EN –  Jared Teders 26 FG 8:49, 3-0
EN – Bryce Wolfe 9 pass to Nathan Ogle (Teders kick) 3:58, 10-0
EN – Dillon Fuller 1 run (Teders kick) 1:03, 17-0
Second Quarter
W – Ethyn Bradley 38 run (Caleb Klusman kick) 10:11, 17-7
EN – Fuller 5 run (Teders kick) 5:35, 24-7
W – Klusman 18 FG :2, 24-10
Third Quarter
W – Jake Mangas 61 pass to Riley Rhoades (Klusman kick) 1:54, 24-17
Fourth Quarter
W – Mangas 4 run (Mangas conversion pass to Brock Riley) 1:45, 25-24
Rushing — E. Noble, Fuller 25-102, Nolan Wible 10-33, Wolfe 8-24; Warsaw, Bradley 14-85, Jakub Wood 5-21, Kyle Mangas 2-11, J. Mangas 9-(-12).
Passing — E. Noble, Wolfe 10-19-117, 3 INT, 1 TD; Warsaw, J. Mangas 14-28-272, 2 INT, 1 TD.
Receiving — E. Noble, Ogle 6-63, Jake Torrie 2-39, Colten Williams 1-21; Warsaw, Riley Rhoades 6-148, Bradley 3-68, Riley 3-54, Jeremy David 2-2.