PIQUA — They should have played in the regular season.
But they didn’t, instead Midwest Athletic Conference foes Marion Local and Minster used Friday’s Division VI regional semifinal game to put on a classic.
In fact, it was not until Marion Local wide receiver Hunter Wilker fell on an onside kick with less than one minute left in the game that Flyers’ fans could exhale.
Marion Local (10-2) defeated Minster 41-34 at Alexander Stadium, Purk Field on the campus of Piqua High School.
Marion Local gained 480 yards of offense, 351 yards on the ground, while Minster (9-3) gained 347 yards, 294 yards through the air. The difference was the third quarter when the Flyers outgained their opponents 109-2 and took a 35-14 lead.
“Minster is a good team with a lot of good skill,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said. “I thought both offenses had the edge and were pretty darn good.”
The Flyers struck first. One their second possession, junior quarterback Adam Bertke connected with sophomore running back Jacy Goettemoeller for a 42-yard strike. Goettemoeller caught the ball on the sideline and broke to the middle for the final 15 yards. Peyton Kramer’s point-after gave Marion Local a 7-0 lead with 4:52 left in the first quarter.
On the very next possession, Minster evened the score at 7-7 when Korey Schultz took ahandoff and sprinted around the left side untouched for a score.
Marion Local regained the lead on the first play of the second quarter. Goettemoeller took a counter a swept around the right side. Kramer’s PAT gave the Flyers a 14-7 lead with 11:55 in the second quarter.
After stopping the Wildcats on a fourth and 4 from the Flyers’ 24, Marion Local went on the march. Mixing the run and pass, the Flyers made the score 21-7 with 2:29 left in the first half. Fullback Alaric Keller dove in from 1 yard out. The key play was a 44-yard pass from Bertke to Hunter Wilker to give Marion Local a first and goal at the 8.
Minster drew closer just before halftime. Getting the ball with 2:23 left in the half, the Wildcats drove 73 yards. Senior quarterback Adam Niemeyer found Ethan Wolf on a slant route on fourth and 2 from the 6 yard line. Devon Peoppelman’s PAT made the score 21-14 at halftime.
Niemeyer finished the game 25 of 48 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Back-to-back interceptions started the second half. Schultz intercepted Bertke and returned it 52 yards to the Flyers’ 17 yard line. On first down, Goettemoeller picked off Niemeyer’s pass and gave Marion Local the ball at its own 1-yard line.
After each team exchanged punts, the Flyers drove 56 yards. Goettemoeller scored his third touchdown of the night when he dove over the top from 1-yard out to give Marion Local a 28-14 lead with 1:01 left in the third quarter.
Mark Thobe got the Flyers the ball back when the senior linebacker intercepted Niemeyer. From there the Flyers put the game away. Bertke took the shotgun handoff, went right and spun his way into the end zone and put the Flyers in the regional finals, where they’ll face the St. Henry on Friday at a site to be determined.
The 11-yard touchdown run made the score 35-14 with 10:23 left in the game.
“Definitely helped us out,” Goodwin said of the turnovers. “Turnovers are going to be the test for us.”
Minster fought back and scored one minute later. Poeppleman got the pitch and threw it 44 yards to Jay Eilerman, who dove into the end zone. The PAT was missed and the score was 35-20.
On the ensuing onside kick, the ball was mis-kicked and was motionless before going 10 yards. Instead of letting the ball go, Kyle Mescher tried to pick it and fumbled. Minster returned the gift, fumbling the ball two plays later and the Flyers were able to work the clock and run the ball.
After stopping the Flyers, Niemeyer found Poeppelman from 3 yards out to make it 35-27.
“I think we need to credit Minster,” Goodwin said. “They have great skill with their quarterback and receivers.”
After Bertke recovered an onside kick, the Flyers struck again. On fourth and 1, Goettemoeller took a pitch around the right side and went 41 yards for the score.
“That’s been a bedrock since I have been here,” Goodwin said. “If we can’t get 1 yard, we don’t deserve to win.”
Goettemoeller carried the ball 24 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Bertke added 23 carries for 122 yards and one score.
Niemeyer’s third touchdown pass to Ethan Wolf with 45 seconds left in the game was the last of the season for the Wildcats.
“You couldn’t play any hard than our kids did tonight,” Minster coach Nate Moore said. “If you have to go out this is how you go out. That’s a great football team. They are tough and physical up front.”