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Saturday, October 25th, 2008

St. Henry wins, but falls short of playoffs

By Bruce Monnin

St. Henry's Brent Prenger, 23, follows his blocks for a big run on the ground du. . .

ST. HENRY - It was a like a first-round playoff game in St. Henry as the Redskins tried to keep alive its slim playoff hopes while the Minster Wildcats could earn a playoff berth win a win. Both teams played tight, turnover-free football, with St. Henry scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown to pull away with a 21-13 victory.
St. Henry controlled the rushing portion of the game, racking up 225 yards on the ground while holding Minster to less than two yards per carry and 52 yards total. The Wildcats held on with some timely passing, converting four out of five fourth downs and had some critical defensive stops, but the Redskins ground game was too much in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we had a good week of preparation," commented St. Henry coach Jeff Starkey on his team. "We had a little fun in practice."
Starkey was also happy with his team's consistent effort and lack of turnovers throughout the game.
"We played two halves of football. We hadn't done that in quite a while. When you don't turn the ball over in a game of this type, you always have a chance," said Starkey.
Minster struck first on its opening drive. Mixing an equal amount of running and passing, the Wildcats marched into Redskin territory and converted a critical fourth down and three play at the St. Henry 37-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Chase Paxson threw a high lob into the corner of the end zone where Jack Griner outjumped the defender to haul in the score.
Minster threatened again early in the second quarter when a completion deep in Redskin territory was taken away by an offensive pass interference penalty. The drive stalled, and St. Henry took advantage of the opportunity when a combination of a 33-yard Brent Prenger run and a 15-yard Minster personal-foul penalty on the same play took the Redskins into Wildcat territory. Brad Stahl hooked up with Jordan Post for a 29-yard completion on the next play, then an eight-yard touchdown pass to Zach Fishbaugh to tie the score at 7-7.
St. Henry drove deep to the Minster 13-yard line on its next possession but could advance no further against the Wildcat defense. With less than a minute to go in the half, the Redskins mounted another drive but only reached the Minster 26-yard line before time ran out in the half.
Just as Minster did in the first half, St. Henry scored on its first possession of the second half. The drive took 13 plays and almost five minutes and was capped off by a three yard Prenger run. The successful kick gave the Redskins a 14-7 lead.
Minster answered with a 10-play scoring drive of its own. It looked gloomy for Minster when it faced fourth down and 11 just inside Redskin territory, but Paxson again hooked up with Griner for a 27-yard completion for the first down. Three plays later, Ian Ranly bulled over the goal line for the touchdown. However, a bad snap caused the extra point try to fail, and St. Henry retained a 14-13 lead.
The Redskins had the final scoring drive of the game early in the fourth quarter. The St. Henry defense forced Minster to punt from the Wildcats' own end zone and the offense started at the Wildcat 34-yard line. Four straight runs by Prenger netted 29 yards, then Stahl scrambled for the final five yards to provided the final score of 21-13.
Minster tried to respond. The Wildcats used six of the remaining nine minutes to drive to the St. Henry 38-yard line, but a sack and a running play thrown for a loss pushed the Wildcats back and for the first time they failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt when a 17-yard pass play came up four yards short of the first down. Minster had one last chance with 32 seconds remaining in the game when it took over at its own 16-yard line, but a Josh Schneider interception preserved the St. Henry victory.
With the loss, Minster drops to 5-5 and will finish 9th or 10th in the region 24 standings, just out of the playoffs. St. Henry's record improves to 6-4, but the Redskins also look to fall just short of qualifying for the playoffs.
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