WAPAKONETA — The Minster football team started the season at 2-4 before the Wildcats righted the ship; they now stand 9-4 and are headed to the state semi-finals.
The Wildcats knocked off defending state champion Fort Recovery 35-33 Saturday night in the Division VII Region 28 final at Harmon Field but the win didn’t come easy.
Every time that Minster seemed to grab control of the game the Indians would bounce back and make a big play that kept them in the game.
It looked like the teams would go to the half tied at 7-7 but Minster struck with no time left on the clock when quarterback Jared Huelsman scored from 1-yard out to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead,
Fort Recovery then fumbled the kick-off to start the third period and Huelsman connected on a 33-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Niemeyer to put Minster up 21-7. Ft. Recovery running back Will Homan would score his second of three touchdowns with 1:45 left in the third period to get the Indians back to with-in 21-13.
This time it was the Wildcats turn to answer and they did following a 24-yard kick-off return by Niemeyer that put them in business at the Fort Recovery 49-yard line. Following an 8-yard run by Bryce Schmiesing, Huelsman connected with Niemeyer on a 41-yard scoring pass to put the Wildcats up 28-13
entering the final period of play.
Huelsman would score his second rushing touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run with only 4:36 left to play that put the Wildcats up 35-20 and seemingly in control of the contest.
But Fort Recovery refused to quit and got to with-in 35-27 when Homan dashed 24-yards with 3:57 left in the game. The Indians (8-5) defense then got a stop and got the ball back at their 19-yard line, 81 yards away from pay dirt.
Huelsman completed back to back passes to Homan (20 yards) and Cade Wendel (33 yards) before Huelsman went in from 9-yards out to pull the Indians to with-in 35-33.
An attempt to tie the game fluttered to the ground when a pass was knocked down at the goal line and Minster took over the ball and took two knees to end the game.
“They made a ton of plays and we answered but came up two points short.” Ft. Recovery coach Brent Niekamp said. “Our kids gave it all they had tonight.”
Minster coach Geron Stokes was quick to give credit to his eight seniors for the turn-around from their 2-4 start.
“We were a really bad team but we changed and we fixed it,” Stokes said. “Our eight seniors are great leaders and held us together. Players have to be players – and make plays – at this time of the year.”
Homan paced Fort Recovery with 161 yards rushing to go along with his three scores while Huelsman came up big for Minster with 137 yards on the ground and two rushing scores. He was 9-of-19 passing for 200 yards and two more scores.
Minster moves on to the Division VII state semifinals where it will play McComb at 7 p.m. Saturday at a site yet to be announced.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.