By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- When both Minster and New Bremen took their opening drives in for touchdowns, it appeared the fans were in for an offensive shootout.
Little did the fans know the defenses would then take over, with the Minster offense doing enough to score the game-winning touchdown with less than six minutes to go in the game for the 14-7 win in this intense backyard rivalry.
"You play a rivalry football game in this conference, it's going to be a war," stated Minster coach Whit Parks. "We knew it was going to be like that and we feel very fortunate to come out with a win."
New Bremen coach Chad Williams concurred, "If you can't get excited about this game, there's really nothing in the world you can get excited about."
Minster's first possession started off with a Troy Parks 34-yard kickoff return. Five plays later, quarterback Dan Mueller took off running on a pass play and scrambled 34 yards to the two-yard line. Andrew Meyer punched it into the end zone on the next play and Minster led 7-0. On the following possession, Brad Wendel connected with Brian Garman for a big 40-yard pass on third down. Garman later switched directions, cut back against the grain and scored on a 19-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Though New Bremen compiled 86 yards on its initial drive, it would only add another 64 yards to that total for the rest of the game, though, they did get close enough to try a 33-yard field goal which hit the crossbar and fell short.
Minster also found the going tough gaining only 71 additional first-half yards after its opening drive.
"Both teams made really good adjustments," noted Williams, "Then the rest of the night it was a struggle."
The second half was played almost entirely in the New Bremen half of the field. Minster's first drive ended in a missed 38-yard field goal, and their second possession concluded with a missed 41-yard attempt.
The Wildcats took the ball a third time at the start of the fourth quarter and went to the power running game, driving 58 yards in 12 plays as Meyer went in from six yards out for the game-winning score. A big play was a third down and six from the 14-yard line when Michael McVety ran for seven yards and a critical first down.
"That (the fourth quarter drive) was what we needed," explained Parks. "I'm real proud of our line and our backs, the way they were able to get the critical third downs."
New Bremen had one last chance after it forced a Minster fumble with 1:45 remaining in the game. The Minster defense held for three plays, then Troy Parks intercepted a fourth-down pass to seal the victory.
Bad news for Minster in the game was that quarterback Dan Mueller broke his collarbone for the second time this season.
On Friday, Minster travels to take on the undefeated and number-two ranked team in Division IV, the Coldwater Cavaliers.
New Bremen is no more fortunate, as it hosts the undefeated and number-one ranked team in Division V, the Versailles Tigers.