WAPAKONETA — Crestview’s offense has received plenty of well-deserved accolades this year.
But against Minster in a Division VII, Region 28 semifinal on Saturday night, it was the Knights’ second half defensive effort that helped Crestview bump off the Wildcats 28-14.
With the win, Crestview goes to 11-1 overall and advances to the regional final against Fort Loramie on Saturday at Lima Spartan Stadium. Minster ends its season with a 9-3 mark.
“Both teams started off hard and it continued all night,” Crestview coach Jared Owens. “I thought we were able to wear on them a little bit and get our running game going. I thought tonight we were the more physical team and that was the difference in the ball game.”
Minster coach Geron Stokes was disappointed with the loss and gave Crestview credit.
“It was an awesome game,” Stokes said. “Both team’s efforts were awesome they just made played. Ten (Drew Kline) is unbelievable.”
In a tight matchup, the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie after the first two quarters.
In the second half, the two defenses dominated but it was the Knights who shutdown the Wildcat offensive machine.
Minster could not sustain any type of drive and on its first five possessions in the second half, the Wildcats did not have a drive of five or more plays and were forced to punt on three of them.
Wildcat running back Alex Schmitmeyer, who amassed 81 yards in the first half, finished with 82 for the game. Quarterback Jacob Niemeyer, who was 2 for 3 in the first half, finished 8 for 17 with 79 yards and two interceptions.
The Wildcats’ final two possessions ended with Kline interceptions. The first pickoff stopped Minster’s best drive when the Wildcats moved the ball to the 16-yard line but on a third and 10 Kline stepped in front of his receiver at the goal line to get the first Knight turnover.
Kline’s second takeaway came with a little less than two minutes in the game and this time the senior defensive back ripped the ball away from the Minster receiver to not only snatch the ball away but seal the victory.
“We kind of had to make some sight adjustments with the way were playing defensively, and for how aggressive we were being, we actually had to back the guys down a little bit so they could see what was happening in front of them and fill a gap,” Owens said. “What a great adjustment by our defensive coordinator coach (Matt) Holden and great execution by our defense in the second half.”
Crestview’s two scores in the second half were the only points in the final 24 minutes.
Crestview’s Mr. Everything Wade Sheets broke the first half tie when he electrified the crowd with an 89-yard punt return early in the third quarter. The Northwest Conference specialist of the year showed off his talents by snagging the ball, moving right and then a quickly left and eventually outracing everyone for pay dirt. The thrilling punt return gave Crestview a 22-14 lead with 10:37 left in the third quarter.
Crestview’s second touchdown of the second half that would secure the win came late in the fourth quarter when the Knights put together a nine-play, 69 yard march downfield. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard run by Kline and was capped off when the senior standout signal caller did his best Russell Wilson impression and scrambled and danced his way for three yards. With 6:30 left in the game, Crestview held a 28-14 advantage.
For the game, Kline finished with 105 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown on the ground and was 14 for 21 for 191 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Owens said his guys in the trenches were the unsung heroes.
“Football is one up front, period,” Owens said. “You need a good quarterback and good skilled players but football is one up front and our guys played their butts off tonight.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.