FORT BRANCH, Ind. -- Dodging and weaving behind his powerful offensive line, Pete Hartley shook loose once he broke into the open field on Saturday in the Class 3A Southern Semistate.
Hartley gained 192 yards on 15 attempts, including four touchdowns, to spark Bishop Chatard to a 39-0 halftime advantage over Gibson Southern. He finished with 210 yards on 20 carries and five scores as the Trojans rolled to a 59-7 victory.
No. 3 Chatard (12-2) will play No. 4 Hamilton Heights (13-1) at noon on Saturday for the state title at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Trojans are two-time defending state champions and hold the state record with 11 titles since the IHSAA created a postseason format in1973.
"It's tradition," said Hartley, a senior running back, who increased his season totals to 2,008 yards and 27 touchdowns. "No one knows what it's all about until you're part of it. Our goal is to get to state and we're not satisfied until we get that."
Gibson Southern, which won its first sectional and regional championships in school history and set a school record for victories, finished 11-3.
No second-half heroics were on tap this time around for the Titans. They overcame a 49-21 halftime deficit to stun No. 2 Charlestown 57-49 in the regional.
"Our line did really well," Hartley said. "Everybody knew they would be good after their comeback last week. Our offensive line did great and it was all across the board. It was a huge team win."
After losing 15 starters, Chatard coach Vince Lorenzano was proud of the way his team regrouped.
"If you look at us, we're no different than anybody else," Lorenzano said. "We play 'up' in our schedule and take our lumps. We pay the price for that. But the thing is the kids learned and grew.
"It starts with the offensive line and the fullback (Michael Weimer). They understand it's a process and they work hard when the time comes."
First-year Gibson Southern coach Nick Hart, who served as offensive coordinator for former Warren Central coach John Hart, said Chatard was the best team his squad had faced all year.
"I told the kids this game doesn't take away what we accomplished this year," Hart said.