MINSTER — Despite a slow start in the first half, Minster put up a dominant second-half performance to defeat Ft. Loramie 26-5 in the season opener on Friday night.
“I’m just so proud of our kids right now. You want to talk about adversity, overcoming it and looking momentum in the face and staying up to it — that’s a great football team we played; they’re going to win a lot of football games this year,” said Minster head coach Nate Moore. “We had four turnovers in the first half against a great football team and we were still in it. I’m just so proud of our kids right now. They had every opportunity to pack it in and they fought through it. I’m just so proud of them.”
While Minster left the field with a great feeling following the big win, Loramie, naturally did not.
“Our kids’ effort was there. It was (that) Minster executed better than we did and that’s the bottom line and that’s what I’m most disappointed about,” said Ft. Loramie head coach Matt Burgbacher. “That’s what I’m most disappointed is with our offense. We didn’t take care of the opportunities we had. Minster forced us to do some things we really didn’t want to do and you (have) to give their kids credit.”
Things began poorly for the Wildcats, who received the opening kick-off, as quarterback Adam Niemeyer fumbled after being hit in the backfield on third and long.
The fumble was recovered by Garrett Eilerman and the Redskins took over from Minster’s 28 yard-line. After driving down to the Minster 10 yard-line, Loramie’s offense stalled and they settled for a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Zeis.
The Redskins led 3-0 with 8:01 remaining in the first quarter.
Minster punted the ball back to the Redskins less than two minutes later, but Loramie running back Cory Brandewie soon fumbled. The ball was recovered by Minster’s Ryan Hoying, setting the Wildcats up near the Loramie 40 yard-line.
Minster soon capitalized on the turnover as Troy Kauffman scored on a 33-yard touchdown run on third down and two. Kicker Devon Poeppelman missed the extra point, but Minster still led 6-3 with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Minster’s next possession opened with a 25-yard run by Kauffman that was negated by a holding penalty. Minster rebounded and drove down to the Loramie 33-yardl-ine. The drive ended on third and three when Niemeyer’s pass was intercepted by Cory Brandewie in the endzone.
Loramie took over at the Minster 20 yard-line. After gaining several first downs, Loramie was forced to punt after quarterback Ryan Humphreys was sacked by Devon Poeppelman on third and long.
Niemeyer soon threw another interception, this time from the 36 yard-line. The pick was run back to the 4 yard-line by the Redskins’ Jake Cordonnier.
Loramie was pushed back to the 9 yard-line on an illegal substitution penalty before their first offensive play following the pick. Minster’s defense held their ground, forcing fourth and short.
Instead of trying the field goal, Loramie elected to run on fourth and goal from the 2 yard-line. Minster stopped the runner and took over the ball.
On Minster’s first play after the turnover-on-downs, Kauffmann was wrapped up in the endzone. The safety trimmed Minster’s lead to one as the Cats still led 6-5 with 4:29 remaining in the first half.
After a methodical drive down to Loramie’s 21 yard-line on Minster’s next possession, Niemeyer’s troubles continued as he threw an interception to Zeis with 54 seconds remaining in the half.
“We’ve got to stop throwing interceptions. I think the problem was this, we have a very good quarterback and he was trying to a little bit too much,” said Moore. “He was trying to squeeze into windows that he shouldn’t have been trying to squeeze into.”
Loramie took over at its own 1-yard-line and ran out the clock. Minster led 6-5 at the half.
“What we told them (at halftime) was very simple, ‘we’re doing a good job in lots of things. We just (have to quit doing what we’re screwing up, mainly putting the ball on the ground and throwing picks,” said Moore. “We felt like the defense was playing really well. We thought the offense was close, minus the turnovers.”
On Minster’s first possession of the secondhalf, running back Korey Schultz followed up a first down run on third and three with a 45-yard romp to the Loramie 23 yard-line.
Kauffmann converted a fourth-and-short run to give the Wildcats a new set of downs at the 13 yard-line. Kauffmann followed this up with a 13-yard touchdown run.
On Minster’s next possession, Daniel Gushing opened the fourth quarter with a 33-yard gain off a direct snap to the Minster 23 yard-line. Gushing then drove for a first down on third and 8. After exchanging penalties with Loramie, Minster started from the ‘Skins 11 yard-line. Schulz then scored on a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth and two. Poeppelman hit the extra point and Minster led 19-5 with 6:43 remaining in the game.
Moore credited the offensive line with giving his running backs confidence throughout the game.
“I thought our backs ran real well tonight, other than the fumble. We ran hard,” said Moore. The funny thing is, we expected that out of Troy Kauffmann,” said Moore. “Korey Schultz, man, I didn’t know he could run that hard. You want to talk about the heart of some of the kids we’ve got, it’s unbelievable.”
Ft. Loramie’s next possession resulted in a 4th and 24 punt from their own 6-yardline. Things soon got much worse for the Redskins.
On the first play of Minster’s next possession, Kauffmann took the ball 37 yards to the house, effectively icing the game for the Wildcats. After another successful extra point by Poeppelman, Minster led 26-5 with 4:39 remaining.
In addition to holding the Redskins to just five points, Minster outgained Loramie 367 to 64 yards overall, including just 58 yards on the ground.
“They just played lights out. … Very impressive effort by our defense,” said Moore.
Despite the tough loss, Burgbacher plans to prepare for next week’s game just like he did for this week’s.
“The effort was there, now we just need to execute. We need to take care of the opportunities that are given to us,” said Burgbacher. … “We’re going to have to learn from it; we’re going to have to move on. We still (have) nine games; we still (have) nine, one-game seasons. That’s the thing, I want it to tear us apart right now, but tomorrow we’re going to start putting it back together and get ready for next week.”
Although Minster won big, Moore knows there is still room for improvement.
“I think we can get a lot better. The old saying is, you’ll never improve as much as you do between week one and week two. I think we can do that too,” said Moore.
On Friday night, Minster will travel to Lehman Catholic, while Ft. Loramie will host New Bremen.
Minster 6 0 6 14 — 26
Fort Loramie 3 2 0 0 — 5