Saturday, October 13th, 2007
By Bruce Monnin
St. Henry defense holds off Minster
MINSTER - It was a tight game at Minster as the Wildcats attempted to gained their first victory of the season against the St. Henry Redskins.
St. Henry took the early lead, but could not pull away from the Wildcats until a fourth quarter recovery of an on-side kick and following touchdown drive secured the 27-13 victory.
Some measures of the closeness of the game could be found in the statistics. Minster led St. Henry 19-16 in first downs, while the Redskins outgained the Wildcats 342-304 in total yards. The difference was that while Minster was able to drive into St. Henry territory seven times in the game, the Redskin defense allowed them to score on just one of those drives.
"You have to fight a little bit harder as they get closer to the end zone," confirmed St. Henry coach Jeff Starkey. "Our kids made some plays and forced Minster to turn it over on downs."
St. Henry took the opening kickoff and looked like it was going to have its way with the Wildcat defense, going 60 yards on 10 plays to take the early 7-0 lead. Brad Stahl completed three out of four passes and Zach Fishbaugh rushed for the rest, including a one-yard scoring plunge.
The teams then exchange non-scoring possessions, until early in the second quarter when Minster's Austin Baumer tossed a swing pass to Ty Whitford, who outraced everyone to the corner and then sprinted for a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
Minster reached the Redskin' 32-yard line on their next possession, and the St. Henry 18-yard line the time after that, but the Redskin defense held when their back approached the goal line.
With under two minutes to go before half, St. Henry went into the two-minute offense, and drove 80 yards in a little over a minute. A 16-yard touchdown pass from Stahl to Corey Puthoff gave the Redskins a 14-7 halftime lead.
"I thought we came out and started the game well, then lost some momentum from late in the first quarter and all the way until the end of the second quarter until we got into a two-minute situation," explained Starkey. "We did a nice job handling that with a young quarterback and a real nice catch in the end zone by a senior receiver."
St. Henry tried to expand its lead early in the third quarter, but its drive deep into Minster territory was thwarted by a Sam Otting interception, which he returned 51 yards to the Redskin 43-yard line. But again, the St. Henry defense came up big, sacking the quarterback on a fourth-down play.
The Redskins immediately showed some strength, scoring on just three plays. Fishbaugh ran for 17 and 14 yards, then Neil Schwieterman broke free for a 33-yard touchdown to open up a 21-7 lead.
As the fourth quarter began, Minster again drove into St. Henry territory, and was again stopped as Josh Schneider intercepted a pass at the eight-yard line.
But the Wildcats refused to quit. They put together another drive, going 74 yards on eight plays, with Whitford scoring on a 22-yard run. The kick failed, but Minster was within a score, 21-13.
With only four minutes remaining, the Wildcats attempted an on-side kick. Brian Mueller pooched it high and short, and the Minster players crashed into the St. Henry line just before the ball arrived, apparently recovering the kick. However, Fishbaugh made a heads-up play of calling for a fair catch, so Minster was penalized for fair-catch interference and the Redskins retained possession.
A Brad Stahl 25-yard touchdown pass to Tony Stahl sealed the 27-13 Redskin victory.
Despite the loss, Minster coach Eric Belcher was pleased with his team's effort.
"I thought the team played great. Being 0-7 coming into the game, you worry about the kids giving up a little bit," admitted Belcher. "But this group continued to fight and continued to do what we asked them to do this week."
St. Henry, now 4-4, returns home to face the 2-6 Versailles Tigers on Friday while Minster (0-8) hits the road for the rest of the season, facing 6-2 Parkway next week.
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