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Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Parkway picks up first win of season

By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER - When a 1-6 football team plays host to an 0-7 team, sometimes both teams do not put forward their best effort.
That was far from the case at Minster as the Parkway Panthers earned their first victory of the season with a hardfought 17-15 win over the Minster Wildcats.
Both teams engaged in a rugged defensive struggle with Parkway's two long returns for touchdowns on the night being enough to hold off a late fourth quarter Minster surge.
Parkway coach Ed Kuhn was extremely pleased with both the effort and the result on the night from his Panthers.
"I just have to say I have to praise God for these guys, what they've fought through," complimented Kuhn. "I am proud of these guys. We spend a lot of time at Parkway talking about character. Character counts in life and in football. It is a credit to their character that they haven't quit the whole year."
The game was still young when Parkway put up the only score of the first half. Both teams were forced to punt after their first possession, but Matt Dugan fielded the Wildcat punt on his own 10-yard line and took the return 90 yards for an early 6-0 Panther lead.
The rest of the half consisted of both teams advancing into their opponent's territory but failing to come away with any points. Minster advanced in Parkway territory four times without hitting paydirt, while the Panthers moved in Wildcat territory twice, including once where they reached the Minster two-yard line before being stopped by an interception by Lou Fullenkamp.
Minster started the second half looking to even the score. The Wildcats drove for 12 plays and used half of the third quarter to reach the Parkway six-yard line. The Panthers turned potential disaster into opportunity when Jonathan Fent stepped in front of a Wildcat receiver to intercept a pass and then outran the entire Minster team for a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion increased the Parkway lead to 14-0.
"He did what he has been taught. He made a tremendous break on the football," added Kuhn. "It was a humongous play."
The Wildcats tried to respond. After recovering a Parkway fumble off a punt, Minster drove to the Panther 25-yard line. Another interception ended this drive, this time by Shawn Miller.
The Wildcats were not done yet. Midway through the fourth quarter they put together another 10-play drive. This time they were rewarded with points when Adam Niemeyer found Ross Heitkamp in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown reception cut their deficit to 14-7.
Parkway immediately showed that its offense could also score in the fourth quarter. On their first play after the kickoff, Bryce Bedwell connected with Caleb Rodriguez for a 41-yard gain. Another pass to Dillon Long for 16 yards brought the Panthers close enough for Riley Bransteter to drill a 27-yard field goal. This appeared to put the Parkway lead out of reach at 17-7 with only three minutes left in the game.
But the Wildcats were not done. Using their hurry-up offense, Minster took just six plays before Niemeyer found Daniel Gusching for a nine-yard touchdown reception with 1:18 still remaining. The two-point conversion which followed brought the Wildcats within two points at 17-15.
The game came down to the ensuing on-side kick. Wildcat fans had their hopes raised when the kick deflected off one Panther player, but when the referees dug to the bottom of the pile, they found Parkway in possession. The Panthers ran out the clock to secure their first victory of the season.
Parkway (1-7) returns home next week to take on 4-4 New Bremen. Minster, also now 1-7, goes on the road to face the 7-1 Coldwater Cavaliers.
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