MINSTER – Marion Local defeated ninth-ranked Minster 26-17 in a Midwest Athletic Conference homecoming showdown on Friday.
“We played really well tonight. This is a big win for us and we’ve been waiting a long time for this one,” said Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin. “We played, not real well, (but) we played hard. We made plays and Minster played really well too. It was just two, evenly-matched teams.”
Goodwin said he was most happy with his team’s resiliency throughout the game.
“We had bad things go against us, but our kids kept fighting,” said Goodwin. “I think we played, overall, pretty good defense I think. Offense was pretty good as well.We’ve just got to clean up some just mental mistakes.”
Although Minster head coach Nate Moore was disappointed that his team dropped a second straight conference game, he was not disappointed with his team’s effort.
“Sure I’m disappointed; everybody really wanted to win that football game, but I’m proud of our kids. We played hard. It was a hard-fought ballgame,” said Moore. “Obviously Marion did a couple things better than we did and came out on top, but our kids played hard. It wasn’t a lack of effort or anything. Our kids played their tails off. They left everything out on the field. They did everything we wanted them to do. We’ve just got to be a little bit better.”
Things began well for the Cats as quarterback Adam Niemeyer converted on two, fourth-and-one runs, followed by a 14-yard touchdown screen pass to Daniel Gusching.
Moore used some trickery on the point-after attempt as a fake field goal led to a two-point pass from Gusching to Ethan Wolf. Minster led 8-0.
“It was something that we thought was going to be there and it looked like it was,” Moore said of the fake. … “We knew it was a big game. We knew we were playing a good football team. We knew we were going to have to some risks and do some thing to jump-start us and I thought it was there and it was and the kids made the plays.”
On Marion Local’s first possession of the game, running back Jake Heitkamp broke a 51-yard run on third and short. He was finally brought down at the Minster 13-yardline. Quarterback Adam Bertke threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Lee Pierron on the ensuing play.
Minster led 8-6 with 3:27 left in the first quarter.
“We had the thing rolling there for, I don’t know, the first eight minutes of the game. We had some momentum; we were clicking a little bit.” said Moore. “Then they drove down and scored, but our kids were pumped. They were getting after it.”
Bertke threw a 22-yard pass to Pierron on fourth-and-six from the 24-yardline. Two plays later Heitkamp ran for the 2-yard touchdown.
The Flyers now led 12-8 with 6:27 remaining in the first half.
Bertke found a wide-open Pierron in the endzone for a 23-yard score. The point-after was good as the Flyers took a 19-8 lead with 1:35 left in the half.
Following a first down pass from Niemeyer to Gusching on Minster’s next possession, Niemeyer connected with Derek Collins on a 52-yard bomb that brought the Cats to the Flyer 8 with 34 seconds remaining in the half. The very next play, Niemeyer connected with Devon Poeppelman on an 8-yard touchdown pass. The two-point pass attempt fell incomplete as Minster still trailed 19-14 at the half.
“We had the big first drive, and then after that we started to sputter. It was tough anything going and then to put one in before half was huge,” said Moore. “Derek Collins made a big catch there; big throw by Adam Niemeyer to see him open there. Good job by Derek hauling it in. That was a huge momentum-builder going into halftime.”
Minster’s Troy Kauffman recover a fumble on the Flyer 16-yardline.
Devon Poeppelman hit a 20 yard field goal to trim Marion Local’s lead to two points with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Moore said he thought about going for it on fourth down, but felt like scoring any points in the situation was important.
“We had a turnover here close and it was tough sledding to get down to where we were, so I just kind of felt like, ‘we need to get out of here with some points the way we’re going.’ Devon did a nice job kicking it through,” said Moore.
Jake Heitkamp ran 29 yards to the house to answer. Marion Local led 26-17 with less than 14 minutes remaining in the game.
Marion Local improves to 2-0 in the MAC and 3-1 overall, while Minster falls to 0-2 in the MAC and 2-2 overall.
Minster will get a chance to redeem itself next Friday when the Cats travel to fellow MAC foe New Bremen.
Marion Local, meanwhile will face MAC foe Anna on Friday.
ML 6 13 7 0 — 26
MIN 8 6 3 0 — 17
Team stats ML MIN
First downs 19 15
Rushing Yds. 196 63
Passing 10-12-168 20-34-189
Total offense 364 252
RUSHING — MIN: Schulz 7-28, Niemeyer 12-21, Kaufman 7-12, Gusching 3-2; ML: Heitkamp 27-155, Pierron 1-14, Homan 4-14, Bertke 5-13.
PASSING — MIN: Niemeyer 20-34-189, 2 TDs; ML: Bertke 10-12-168, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING — MIN: Gusching 8-66, TD, Poeppelman 7-57, TD, Collins 3-67; ML: Pierron 8-129, 2 TDs, Goettelmoeller 1-24, Goettemoeller 1-15.