By Bruce Monnin
NEW BREMEN -- It was a sloppy start to the game for the Minster Wildcats as they turned the ball over three times in the first quarter.
The New Bremen Cardinals took advantage to earn a 6-0 first-quarter lead, but then the Mueller brothers took over for Minster and rallied the Wildcats to a dominating 45-13 victory.
Quarterback Dan Mueller rushed for two touchdowns, passed for two more, kicked five extra points and added an 18-yard field goal, to go along with 149 passing yards. Younger brother Brian chipped in with a touchdown reception and a touchdown run of his own to keep his older brother from claiming all the glory on the night.
"Dan Mueller really stepped up tonight. We've had problems the last couple of weeks trying to throw the ball. We changed up a little bit on our offensive passing," stated Minster coach Eric Belcher. "Wednesday we worked on our passing a little more than we regularly do, and it paid off for us."
Minster's defense stopped New Bremen cold on its first possession, then the Wildcat offense penetrated the Cardinal 20-yard line before fumbling the ball away. Another New Bremen punt gave Minster the ball in Cardinal territory again, but this time Chris Heitkamp intercepted a pass to halt the Wildcats. This time New Bremen took advantage of the Wildcat turnover, as five plays later Brennon Speckman broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.
Brian Mueller returned the ensuing kickoff to the New Bremen 44-yard line, but two plays later Minster turned the ball over for the third time in Cardinal territory with another lost fumble.
"It was deja vu," explained Belcher. "We get three turnovers to start the game and you think to yourself, 'Here we go again.' After they scored the touchdown I told the guys we have to start protecting the football, and they did a good job of covering the ball up the second quarter and the second half."
New Bremen returned the miscue favor as an attempted reverse pass was intercepted by Keith Nerderman for the Wildcats. Eight plays and 49 yards later, Dan Mueller plunged across the goal line for a three-yard score and Minster took the lead 7-6, never to relinquish it.
After another three-and-out, Minster took the ball and drove again, this time needing eight plays to cover the 48 yards to the end zone, with Mueller scoring from one yard out. Yet another three-and-out thanks to the Wildcat defense gave Minster one more chance before halftime. Four plays later Dan Mueller hit brother Brian for a 39-yard touchdown pass and a 21-6 halftime lead.
New Bremen took a gamble and on-side kicked to start the second half. Minster recovered in great field position and again used eight plays to drive the 52 yards for the score. Brian Mueller took it in this time on a 13-yard run.
The Minster defense, which was dominating all night, forced New Bremen to punt after three plays one more time, and again the Wildcat offense capitalized. Four plays later Mueller threw a 40-yard touchdown strike to Alex Brandewie to make the score 35-6. Mueller tacked on an 18-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter to increase the Wildcat lead to 38-6.
Both teams added a late touchdown, New Bremen on a 33-yard Brennon Speckman run and Minster on a two-yard run by Robert Gruber.
Minster (3-3) returns home to take on the undefeated and defending Division IV state champion Coldwater Cavaliers. New Bremen (1-5) takes to the road, where it will face the 3-3 Versailles Tigers.