Saturday, October 8th, 2011
Minster's defense stands tall
By Bruce Monnin
Minster's Adam Niemeyer, 15, cross the goaline with some help from his teammates. . .
ST. HENRY - The St. Henry Redskins and the Minster Wildcats played a tight Midwest Athletic Conference contest for most of the first half on Friday night.
However, Minster broke the game open with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half and never looked back en route to a 34-7 road victory. It was the Minster win at St. Henry since 1994, when the Wildcats earned a 21-19 victory over the then top-ranked Redskins.
The Wildcats (5-2, 3-2 MAC) were led by a stifling defensive effort. The Redskins (1-6, 1-4 MAC) could only muster 23 rushing yards and added 134 yards through the air.
"The defense put together another good one tonight. We really hit hard," stated Minster's coach Nate Moore. "We played very well on defense except for one drive where we had three defensive penalties."
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Korey Schultz earned 52 of his 151 rushing yards on the night with a run which brought Minster deep into St. Henry's territory. Wildcats' quarterback Adam Niemeyer finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Redskins responded with a 16-play, 65-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. St. Henry converted three fourth-down plays, one courtesy of a Minster defensive holding penalty and another thanks to a pass interference call. Jeff Paul capped the Redskins' possession with a 10-yard scoring strike to Trey Rutschilling.
Minster again drove deep into St. Henry's territory later in the second quarter, but Jordan Bender intercepted a Wildcats' pass inside the 20-yard line and it appeared the threat had been stopped.
Minster, however, had other ideas. After the defense did not allow a Redskins' first down, Devon Poeppelman returned the ensuing punt to St. Henry's 29-yard line. Four plays later, Niemeyer threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Poeppelman to push Minster's lead to 14-7 with 2:30 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats were not yet done for the first half. A booming Poeppelman kickoff into the end zone followed by another defensive stand set up the Minster offense at midfield with 1:18 remaining before intermission. A 33-yard pass to Daniel Gusching and an eight-yard completion to Ethan Wolf brought the Wildcats inside the 10-yard line. Niemeyer punched the ball into the end zone on a one-yard run to give Minster a 21-7 halftime lead.
St. Henry made a spirited effort to narrow the lead at the start of the second half. A 32-yard halfback pass from Steven Luttmer to Kent Stammen took the Redskins to the Minster 23-yard line. However, the Wildcats' defense again stiffened and stopped St. Henry from advancing further than the 19-yard line.
Minster then put the game away. A 54-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter was capped by a one-yard touchdown pass from Niemeyer to Poeppelman on a fourth-down play. The last score of the game came in the fourth quarter when Schultz broke through the Redskins' defense for a 78-yard scoring run.
Minster's offense gained 376 total yards in the game, 227 of which came on the ground. Minster's receiver Daniel Gusching caught five passes on the night to give him a record-setting 80 for his career. Gusching passed former Minster record-holder Greg Heitkamp, who had 75 career receptions in the early 1980s.
Minster hosts Versailles next Friday while St. Henry travels to play the Anna Rockets.