Saturday, October 20th, 2007
By Bruce Monnin
Parkway dominates second-half play vs. winless Minster
  ROCKFORD - The Parkway Panthers and Minster Wildcats engaged in a back and forth first-half battle Friday night.
The difference in the game was a crucial fourth down stop by the Panthers before halftime and a dominating performance after the break as Parkway took one more step toward a playoff berth with a 34-14 victory.
Parkway looked as if it were going to have its way all night by the looks of the Panthers on their first drive. It took only seven plays and just over two minutes for the Panthers to drive 64 yards for the opening touchdown, a seven-yard Jordan Thompson run to paydirt.
Parkway stopped Minster on three plays and took over possession on the Minster 46-yard line. The Panthers, went for the quick strike, and committed their only turnover on the night when Keith Nerderman intercepted the pass on the Minster five-yard line.
The Wildcats responded with their most impressive drive of the season, covering 95 yards in nine plays, with Austin Baumer throwing a 14-yard pass to Brian Mueller for the touchdown which tied the game at 7-7.
After each was stopped for a series, Josh Fisher put Parkway in great field position with a 50-yard punt return. Seven plays later, Jensen Painter powered over from one yard out and the Panthers regained a 14-7 lead.
Once again the Wildcats responded, this time the major blow being a big gainer on the ground when Ty Whitford raced 52 yards for a touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14.
Both team appeared poised to score again before half. It took only six plays for Parkway to regain the lead on another Thompson seven-yard touchdown run. Minster looked to respond and immediately drove to the Parkway six-yard line, but the Panther defense threw Minster for a one-yard loss on a fourth down play to carry a 21-14 lead into the locker room at half.
A look at the halftime stats showed Minster leading in total yards, 243-213, and also having one less turnover and 38 fewer penalty yards. But thanks to that crucial defensive stop, Parkway led in the only statistic which matters, the score.
"They (Minster) did a good job in the first half, and exploited some things we were trying to do," admitted Parkway coach Ed Kuhn. "We made some adjustments in the second half."
In the second half, the Panther defense held Minster to 37 total yards and no points. The Parkway offense rolled up 218 yards, though penalties kept the Panthers from increasing their lead until the fourth quarter.
"We had gobs of penalties," added Kuhn. "And most of them were holding penalties. That's hard to put drives together when you are starting 10 yards back."
Parkway drove to midfield in its first possession after the break, and on the Panthers' next possession advanced to the Minster 25-yard line before the Wildcat defense stiffened and sacked Parkway on a fourth-down play. As the fourth quarter began, the Panthers again drove to the Minster 12-yard line, and the Wildcat defense again held on a fourth-down play.
The Minster offense again failed to move the ball and on the next Parkway possession and the Wildcats' defense could hold no more. Thompson connected with Jeremy Heiser for a 35-yard touchdown pass and the Parkway faithful had a cushion at last. Thompson added another five-yard touchdown run late in the game and Parkway secured the 34-14 victory.
Parkway moves closer to a playoff berth in region 20 and is now 7-2. The Panthers finish the regular season by traveling to 2-7 Versailles next Friday. Minster, now 0-9, ends the season seeking to gain its first win as the Wildcats travel to play the 6-3 Anna Rockets.
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