Cathedral picks up first victory

NEW ULM – It was a nice way to rebound after an opening-game loss.

John Gillis scored three touchdowns as New Ulm Cathedral (1-1) overcame an early 8-0 deficit and went on to top Sleepy Eye 29-16 Friday night in a Southwest District game at Johnson Field.

Gillis, who carried the ball 13 times for 83 yards, scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and a 46-yard jaunt into the end zone.

Greyhounds’ quarterback Jacob Manderfeld connected on a 7-yard scoring strike to Ben Schumacher.

Landon Strong and Lane Trebesch scored the touchdowns for the Indians. Strong hit the end zone on a 5-yard run while Trebesch latched onto a 15-yard scoring pass from Sam Tessmer. Sleepy Eye (0-2) scored on a safety with 36 seconds left in the game.

“There was a lot of hard-hitting on both sides of the ball,” said Greyhounds assistant coach Jesse Nosbush. “They have a solid offense – they have a lot of good running backs that ran hard.”

For Sleepy Eye coach Cory Haala, it was a game that had some positives along with some negatives.

“There were points tonight where I was disappointed and then at the end they really battled especially those last eight minutes of the game,” Haala said. “Early on, we made a nice play defensively and punched the ball in.”

But that touchdown, that came just over five minutes into the game, was the only touchdown for the Indians until less than four minutes to go in the game.

Sleepy Eye got on the board when Zach Haala stepped in front of a Jacob Manderfeld pass deep in Cathedral territory with the Indians taking over at the Greyhounds’ 13.

Three plays later, Strong rumbled in from five yards out. Strong ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 Indians’ lead at the 5:07 mark.

Cathedral came right back with a touchdown when it marched 59 yards in five plays ending when Gillis powered his way in from a yard out less than two minutes after the Sleepy Eye score. The extra point failed but Cathedral seemed to gain momentum with the score.

“That was big to come back with that touchdown right away,” said Nosbush. “We have a group of younger guys and it is nice when you can gain some confidence and put some points on the board.”

Using that momentum, Cathedral scored on its next two possessions.

First, it was a 53-yard, 11-play drive that was kept alive when the Greyhounds converted a fourth down and 15 on a 17-yard pass from Manderfeld (seven for eight, 108 yards in the game) to Nate Hauser. Three plays later Manderfeld found Schumacher crossing across the middle for a 7-yard scoring pass. Manderfeld hit Colton Braulick for a 2-point conversion and a 14-8 lead.

After Cathedral held on downs, they went 54 yards on just two plays with Gillis turning a trap play into a 46-yard bolt into the end zone.

“We wanted to get our run game going strong tonight;” said Gillis. “We kept setting that play up and then we hit it. I gained a lot of confidence tonight – I know that I can actually run at a high level.”

Manderfeld found Schumacher for a 2-point conversion for a 22-8 Cathedral halftime lead.

Gillis’ third touchdown – another 1-yard run midway through the third quarter – moved the Greyhounds into a 29-8 lead at the 7:48 mark of the third quarter.

Sleepy Eye cut the lead to 29-14 at the 3:54 mark of the final quarter when Tessmer hit Lane Trebesch for a 15-yard touchdown pass .

The Indians recorded a safety when the ball was snapped over the head of punter Tyler Mack but the Greyhounds had their first win.

“This was a big win for us because they are a close rival,” said Gillis. “And any win is fun to have. It is better than losing.”