WAPAKONETA — Minster loves the grind-it-out approach.
But it was a trick play that opened the game up.
Minster’s halfback option pass for a TD gave Minster a two-TD lead in a 21-0 victory over Delphos St. John’s In the Division VII football regional finals Friday at Harmon Stadium.
Minster (9-4) advances to the state semifinals to meet Norwalk St. Paul next Friday at a site to be named.
St. John’s ends its year 8-5.
Minster was led by the 1-2 running approach of halfback Isaac Schmiesing and quarterback Jared Huelsman.
Schmiesing finished with 104 yards on 25 carries. He had a 10-yard TD run.
Huelsman had 58 yards on 13 carries. In the air, he completed 3-of-6 for 56 yards.
Schmiesing ran for 511 yards during the regular season, while Huelsman ran for 1,034.
So it was a bit of a turn that Schmiesing was the featured runner on Friday.
“That (running Schmiesing that much) was not what we’ve seen,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “That was a great game plan. …We were expecting to see more of Huelsman.’’
Minster led 8-0 at the half and was being stifled by the St. John’s defense in the second half.
Enter a trick play.
Huelsman threw a lateral back to Schmiesing on the right sideline. He then fired down field to a wide open Austin Brown for a 45-yard TD.
That pushed the Minster lead to 14-0 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.
“That was huge,” Schulte said of the trick TD play. “You could feel the air come out of our sideline for sure.’’
It was the first halfback option pass Minster pulled off since it was successful in the New Bremen game.
“We practice it every day,” Schmiesing said. “We had been practicing it this week so I wasn’t surprised. It was wide open.’’
Added Minster coach Geron Stokes, “We couldn’t do anything else (so we went to the halfback pass). Credit to Delphos St. John’s. … There were no halftime adjustments. It was play better and we did a little bit, not much.’’
The halfback option pass TD was the first play of the Minster drive following Minster’s August Boehnlein picking off St. John’s Jared Wurst.
Wurst completed 11 for 24 for 135 yards. He had three interceptions.
Minster’s defensive approach was to rush three down linemen and drop eight back in protection. Everywhere Wurst looked, his receivers were closely covered.
And the three up front turned away the Blue Jays’ power runs.
“We wanted to be able to establish a run game, but we could never get that done,” Schulte said. “They were pressuring us all the time and we knew it was going to be a challenge. … We just couldn’t find that big play when we needed it. They put so much pressure on you. And their front three guys, we weren’t moving them.’’
Wurst led the Blue Jays’ ground game with 56 yards on 15 carries.
Minster made it 21-0 with 5:12 to go on a 14-yard TD pass from Huelsman to Alex Lehmkuhl.
Minster moved the ball on a short field the first time it had the ball.
After a short punt because of a 25 mph wind, Minster took over at the St. John’s 36.
Minster went 36 yards on five plays for the score.
Schmiesing ran it over from the 10 to give Minster an 8-0 lead after a two-point conversion. On the drive, Schmiesing had two carries for 20 yards.
Huelsman had three carries for 16 carries.
The Blue Jays drove to the Minster 16 to close the first half, but that was as far as they could get.
“Our defense played well, too,” Schulte said. “They were on the field way too long.’’