Saturday, September 27th, 2008
By Bruce Monnin
Minster is off to a 5-1 start
MINSTER - When the Versailles Tigers played their first-ever game in the Midwest Athletic Conference back in 2001, they were defeated by the Minster Wildcats by a score of 14-13 when Versailles missed the would-be tying extra point.
History repeated itself as Versailles' attempted fourth-quarter tying PAT kick sailed wide left and gave Minster its fifth victory of the season by that same 14-13 score.
"Coming from an 0-10 season to 5-1 is huge," stated Minster coach Eric Belcher. "We got big hurdles off our back. We hadn't won three games in a row since I've been here. It's been since Parkway in 2006 since we've won at home."
The game started without much early excitement. Versailles managed to drive to the Minster 28-yard line on its first possession before turning the ball over on downs for the first of three times in the half.
Early in the second quarter, Minster took over in Versailles territory after an interception by Adam Kaiser. Eight plays later, Chase Paxson connected with Jack Griner for an eight-yard touchdown pass to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers responded one play later. First, the offensive line provided quarterback Jon Richard all the time he wanted. Then, a mix-up in the Minster defense allowed Jon Murphy to be wide open and he took the reception 70 yards to pay dirt to even the score at 7-7.
Versailles had one more chance late in the half when the Wildcats were stopped on a fourth down and inches at their own 32 yard line. The Tigers got to the 19-yard line before a holding call and a stiff Minster defense ended the threat.
The third quarter was much like the first. Minster threatened briefly when Robert Gruber intercepted a pass at the Versailles 36-yard line. However, four plays later the Wildcats fumbled the ball away and the only threat of the quarter was over.
Minster took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter with an eight-play, 72-yard drive. Usual Wildcat starting quarterback Austin Baumer is out for the season with an ACL injury suffered last week, so Paxson took over the signal-calling duties this week. On this drive, Paxson completed all six of his pass attempts, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Griner.
"He (Paxson) put the ball on target most of the time," complimented Belcher. "He did a very good job for a sophomore quarterback."
In what turned out to be the game-winning point, Brian Mueller converted on the PAT kick, the ninth straight such kick he has made.
"We struggled with extra points last year and we went the first three games this year missing one," admitted Belcher. "We've hit our third game where we haven't missed any."
Once again, Versailles answered the Minster score. Richard completed one pass and ran the ball twice for 34 yards to set up Murphy for a two-yard touchdown run with 5:08 remaining. But the missed extra point left the Tigers a point short at 14-13.
Versailles had another try at midfield with 3:12 remaining, but the Wildcat defense stopped the Tigers on four straight plays. A last chance for Versailles with 24 seconds remaining was ended with another Gruber interception.
On Friday, Minster (5-1) will hosts 5-1 Anna in an Oktoberfest weekend battle for second place in the MAC. Versailles, now 1-5, hosts the 3-3 Fort Recovery Indians.
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