MINSTER — Lehman didn’t let Minster off the hook as easily as the first time the two met, but the Wildcats still dominated in handing the Cavaliers a 33-15 setback in a first-round Division 7 playoff game Saturday night at Minster.
The Wildcats are now 7-4 and advance to the regional semifinals, where they will meet another Northwest Central Conference opponent in Upper Scioto Valley. Lehman and Upper tied for the NWCC championship, and Upper advanced Saturday by holding off Troy Christian 27-21.
The Cavaliers bow out with a final 7-4 mark.
Minster beat the Cavs 44-21 back in week two, and the key was a blazenly-fast start, the Wildcats scoring 24 points in the first quarter.
This time around, it looked for a while like it would be the same thing all over again. Minster forced a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, then went 58 yards in just four plays by handing the ball off to senior running back Bryce Schmiesing. He went for 9, 9, 17 and 23 yards to cover the distance and give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead with still 9:57 left in the opening quarter.
Lehman again went three-and-out, and Minster kept the ball for 10 plays and drove 61 yards before turning the ball over on downs at the Lehman two.
The Cavs punched it out to the 31, but sophomore quarterback Elliott Gilardi was sacked all the way back to the 17 after a running play lost six yards, forcing another punt.
Kameron Lee boomed the bunt 48 yards, and Minster started at its own 35. But it took just one play, with Jared Huelsman hitting Isaac Schmiesing for a 65-yard scoring strike and a 13-0 lead with :37 left in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers responded, however, driving 72 yards in eight plays. Gilardi completed passes of 13 and 22 yards on the first two plays of the drive to get the Cavs downfield in a hurry, then kept the ball and ran for 28 yards down to the Minster 4-yard line. Owen Smith covered the last four yards on two rushing plays and the Cavs were down just 13-7 with 2:10 left in the half.
And that’s how the two teams went to the lockerroom.
With Minster having possession to start the second half, the Cavs needed a stop. But they couldn’t get it. Minster started at its own 24-yard line, and drove 76 yards on just six plays, the score coming from Schmiesing on an 18-yard run with 9:27 left in the third quarter.
On its first possession, Lehman kept the ball for 11 plays but gained a net of only 26 yards thanks to incomplete passes and a couple of lost-yardage plays. And after a punt, Minster drove 60 yards in 12 plays, the longest being a 15-yard run by Schmiesing on the first play of the possession.
Huelsman bulled in from two yards out on the first play of the final period to make it 27-7, and when Schmiesing picked up a Lehman fumble and returned it seven yards to the Lehman 8 just 30 seconds later, it set up the clinching score. On the first play following the fumble, Huelsman hit Anthony Boehnlein for a 7-yard score and a 33-7 lead.
Lehman got on the board again with 3:50 remaining when Jacob Earhart broke loose on a 47-yard touchdown run.
Minster finished with 404 yards in total offense to just 244 for the Cavaliers.
The Wildcats had 280 yards rushing, with Schmiesing going for 201 yards on 23 carries. Earhart had 90 for the Cavs.
Huelsman was 7-for-9 passing for 124 yards and two scores. Gilardi was 9 for 18 for 77 yards.