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Saturday, October 29th, 2011
By Bruce Monnin
Minster's defense stands tall
MINSTER - Due to the results of other games played on Friday night, the Minster Wildcats needed a win over the Coldwater Cavaliers to reach the postseason.
Led by an incredible defensive performance, Minster earned its first win in its last 18 attempts against Coldwater in convincing fashion with a 22-6 triumph.
"We earned it on the field tonight," commented Minster's coach Nate Moore after the game. "We were facing elimination and got the job done."
A selective look at the first half would have you thinking the Wildcats were in trouble early. Coldwater twice recovered Minster fumbles, blocked a punt and took the ball into Wildcats' territory six times. Yet at the halftime break it was Minster with a 22-0 lead, due to some big offensive plays and a swarming defense that accumulated three interceptions and nine sacks on the night.
Minster came out firing to start the game on both defense and offense. After forcing a Coldwater punt without allowing a first down, the Wildcats' offense started on the Cavaliers' 41-yard line. Seven plays later, Troy Kauffman scored from two yards out to give Minster a 6-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Coldwater responded by driving to the Minster 48-yard line, but were forced to punt. Two plays later, Minster's Korey Schultz ran up the middle, bounced off the pile and took off around the end for an 80-yard touchdown. After a two-point conversion, the Wildcats has a 14-0 lead less than halfway through the first quarter.
"Explosive plays are so important," added Moore. "They can be like a turnover."
The remainder of the first half featured Coldwater driving into reaching Minster territory before being shut down by the Wildcats' defense. On their next possession, the Cavaliers reached the Minster 31-yard line before a sack move the ball back enough to force another punt. Coldwater reached the Minster 39 on its next series, this time getting stymied when a fake punt was stopped for a four-yard loss.
Coldwater again penetrated Minster territory late in the second quarter, reaching the Wildcats' 30 yard line but Schultz made up for an earlier fumble by intercepting a fourth-down pass in the end zone to halt yet another Cavaliers' scoring opportunity.
Minster proceeded to tack on its last score of the night after Kauffman broke free for a 61-yard run. Three plays later, Adam Niemeyer threw a touchdown pass to Ethan Wolf to give Minster a 22-0 halftime lead.
Coldwater looked stronger coming out of the locker room. The Cavaliers' defense shut down Minster on its first possession, then received a 22-yard punt return from Caleb Siefring. The offense then methodically drove to the Wildcats' four-yard line before the Minster defense rose up again to force incomplete passes on third and fourth downs.
The next Coldwater series was more of the same as the Cavs reached Minster's 18-yard line before turning the ball over on downs after a sack and two incomplete passes. Interceptions by Troy Kauffman and Austin Knapke on the next two Coldwater possessions essentially sealed the Wildcats' victory.
Coldwater earned its lone score on the night with under two minutes remaining in the game. After recovering a Minster fumble, the Cavaliers drove 35 yards in five plays, with Austin Bruns running it into the end zone from five yards out.
Though completing just 12 out of 26 pass attempts on the night, Minster's Niemeyer was the sharpest he has been all season, avoiding interceptions by throwing the ball away when no receivers were open. His favorite receiver, Daniel Gushing, caught four passes to set the new Minster single-season record for receptions with 44 on the year.
Minster (7-3, 5-3 MAC) will most likely travel to face 8-2 Springfield Catholic Central next Saturday. Coldwater (7-3, 6-2 MAC) likely travels to play the 10-0 Covington Buccaneers next Friday in a first round playoff matchup.
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