By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- When you watch football games on television, the announcers will often point out how the team winning the time of possession battle usually wins the game.
The Minster Wildcats came out of the gate dominating in total yards and time of possession in the first half, but the Marion Local Flyers won two more important statistics, turnovers and points.
Marion Local survived the opening Wildcat onslaught to hold a 7-2 half-time lead, then dominated in the rough weather of the second half to secure a convincing 27-2 victory.
Minster took the opening kickoff and used almost six minutes and nine plays to drive to the Flyer 37-yard line, where it was thrown for an eight-yard loss on a fourth down and three to go play.
Two plays later, Marion Local quarterback Chris Stucke found a wide open Greg Gehret deep over the middle for a 52-yard touchdown pass and the early 7-0 lead. On Minster's next drive, the Wildcats again ate up the clock, using 10 plays to reach the Flyers' five-yard line. But on the 11th play, Minster fumbled and Marion Local recovered the ball on the two-yard line. Two plays later, however, Chris Stucke was tackled in the end zone by John Steinemann for a safety and the Wildcats earned what turned out to be their only score of the night, cutting their deficit to 7-2.
After the free kick, Minster reached Marion Local territory for the third straight time, and again came up empty when the Flyer defense again came up big, forcing an incomplete pass on a fourth down and two situation.
Later in the second quarter, the first interception of two on the night by Zach Rosenbeck gave Marion Local the ball deep in Wildcat territory. However, an incomplete pass on fourth down and 12 ended the last real scoring threat of the half.
Minster dominated the time of possession and led in total yardage 161-97 at the break, but three turnovers stunted their momentum.
"We never had the ball," explained Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin. "Minster really controlled the ball the first half. They had the ball in four-down territory and they are tough to stop once they get there."
Marion Local came out strong and struck quickly in the second half. On the third play after receiving the kickoff, Marc Otte broke free and ran 57 yards for a score to increase the Flyers' lead to 13-2. Even Marion Local kicker Jacob Giere was energized, as he put the following kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.
Two plays later Minster fumbled again, and Greg Koesters recovers for the Flyers. Five plays after that, Otte scored on a three-yard run and the rout was on, as the Flyers went up 20-2.
The Flyers shut down the Wildcats for the rest of the game, as Minster compiled minus- 6 yards during the second half.
After a 30-minute lightning delay, Marion Local posted the final score of the game two plays into the fourth quarter, a 33-yard strike from Stucke to Dan Moeller for the final score of 27-2.
"We made one big play in the first half, and in the third quarter we really made some plays, and that was the difference in the game," stated Goodwin. "I'm proud of the kids. We bounced back from a couple of tough weeks and I thought we played really good football in the second half."
On Friday Marion Local, now 3-2, hosts the 3-2 Versailles Tigers while Minster (2-3) travels to New Bremen.