Minster guts out sixth win, stays in playoff hunt

ROCKFORD — Minster defeated fellow Midwest Athletic Conference opponent Parkway 28-16 in a must-win game for the Wildcats on Friday night.

“No matter what the game looked like, we brought home the bacon tonight,” said Minster head coach Nate Moore. “We got the ‘W,’ secured a winning season — something that no one will ever be able to take away from this senior class: a winning season. We’re very proud of that right now. We’re going to enjoy this, certainly, for the next 24 hours and get busy working on our big ball game next week.”

The Wildcats scored right out of the gate as Korey Schultz ran the opening kick-off all the way back for the 6-0 lead. It was Minster’s first kick-off return for a touchdown this season

Parkway responded quickly as Riley Bransteter ran the kick-off back to Parkway’s own 46-yardline. On the Panthers’ first offensive play, quarterback Austin Dennison threw a screen pass to Bransteter, who then launched a 57-yard pass to a wide-open Caleb Rodriguez. Despite gaining another set of downs, Parkway was unable to punch the ball into the endzone, settling for a short field goal by Gabe van Gaisberg. After the fieldgoal, Minster still led 6-3with 8:55 left in the first quarter.

Adam Niemeyer found Daniel Gusching on 4th-and-22 to give Minster a fresh set of downs from the 2-yardline. Two plays later, Niemeyer kept the ball himself for a 2-yard touchdown run. Niemeyer connected with Kauffman on the two-point conversion to give Minster a 14-3 lead with 5:31 remaining in the first half.

Parkway again responded quickly, this time when Moorman ran the ball 72 yards for the touchdown. The extra point was good as Parkway trimmed Minster’s lead to four and the teams went to the half with Minster leading, 14-10.

The teams traded interceptions in the opening minutes of the second half.On just the third play of the second half, Dennison’s pass was intercepted by Minster’s Austin Knapke.

Niemeyer threw another pick, this time to Cody Schmitt.

On Minster’s first set of downs following the punt, Niemeyer ran 17-yards on 3rd-and-8 from the 50-yardline. Minster kept pushing forward and Niemeyer opened the fourth quarter with a first-down sneak on 3rd-and-1 to the 20-yardline. A roughing the passer penalty against Parkway on the following play gave Minster a new set of downs at the 10-yardline. Parkway jumped offsides to give the Wildcats 5 more yards and when the ball was finally snapped, Kauffman ran for a 5-yard touchdown on 1st-and-goal. Wolf’s point-after was good and Minster took a 21-10 lead with 11:16 remaining in the game.

Minster took over from their own 38-yardline with 9:53 remaining. An offsides penalty by Parkway soon resulted in a Minster first-down. Schultz then gained a first-down on a screen pass on 3rd-and-12 from the 50-yardline, followed by a first-down run by Niemeyer down to the Parkway 21-yardline.

The Cats continued to drive downfield, taking over at 1st-and-goal from the nine-yard line.

Minster was soon pushed back after the Cats were called for holding to bring up 3rd-and-goal from the 14. Gusching then caught a 14-yard touchdown pass, on 4th-and-goal, to give Minster a commanding lead. Wolf’s extra point was good again, giving Minster a 28-10 lead with 5:36 remaining.

Following a facemask penalty against Minster, Dennison connected with Bransteter on a 31-yard pass to the Minster 30-yardline. Dennison’s next pass was intercepted by Minster’s Paul Dues.

“He’s a guy who started off the year playing on Saturday mornings. Because of the injury to Ryan Hoying in week three or four, he got bumped up and inserted into the line-up at safety and he’s just been getting better every week,” Moore said of the sophomore Dues. ... “He’s going to be a good one. He’s been getting better every week, he’ll get better every year.”

On the first play following the punt, Bransteter caught a 57-yard pass from Dennison. Dennison then found Rodriguez for a 10-yard touchdown reception on 3rd-and-goal from the 10-yardline. The two-point conversion was no good and Minster still led 28-16 with 2:49 remaining.

“He’s 6-4, 200 pounds (and) he can go up and get the ball,” Moore said of Bransteter. ... “ (Number) five made some nice plays there down the stretch. Other than that, if you take away really three or four plays on defense, our kids played lights out.”

“We saw some adversity out here. I don’t think we ever trailed in the ball game, but they were certainly in it. Our kids stepped up to the plate, closed the thing out and so we’re proud. This is not a bad football team; this is not a bad football team at all. They’ve got a lot to be proud of this year. This was a hard-fought ball game. Parkway’s always tough and physical, so yeah, we’re proud of the victory tonight.”

Next Friday, Minster (6-3) will host Coldwater, while Parkway (3-6) will travel to Anna.

Moore said that Coldwater is a “very good football team, obviously (have) got a great quarterback (and a) really nice defense. They’re a typical Coldwater team and we’ve certainly got our hands full and we’ll get to work tomorrow morning.”

Minster     6     8     0     14   —  28
Parkway     3     7     0     6     —  16

First Quarter

MIN — Schulz 81-yard kickoff return, 11:46.
PW — 22-yard FG, 9:07.
Second Quarter
MIN — Adam Niemeyer 2-yd. run, 5:31.
PW — Moorman 72 yd. reception, 4:40.
Fourth Quarter
MIN — Kauffman 5-yd TD run, 11:16.
MIN — Gusching 13-yard reception, 5:36.
PW — Rodriguez 10-yd reception, 2:49.

                            MIN        PW
First Downs         21            12
Rushing Yds.     233           -51
Passing          11-22-106      22-37-288

Minster Leaders:
Passing: Niemeyer 11-21-106, TD, 2INT
Rushing: Shultz 15-79, Kauffman 14-61.
Receiving: Gusching 3-38, TD.