Greyhounds open 9-man play with OT win

Staff photo by Ari Selvey New Ulm Cathedral’s Jevan Wilfahrt deflects a pass during a nine-man South District, West Subdistrict football game against Mountain Lake Area Thursday at Johnson Field.

NEW ULM — New Ulm Cathedral’s first ever nine-man football game was a nail-biter, with Jevan Wilfahrt’s overtime touchdown giving the Greyhounds a 20-14 victory over Mountain Lake Area Thursday at Johnson Field.

Wilfahrt punched the ball in from a yard out in the first overtime after Cathedral was given the first offensive possession. MLA had an opportunity to answer, but a tackle for loss by Brock Carlson, a tackle for no gain by Jaden Helget and a sack by Logan Mielke put the Wolverines back with a fourth-and-goal from the 22. Rylan Koopmann knocked the final pass of the game harmlessly away to give Cathedral the win.

MLA had a 8-3 record last season, making it to the third round of the nine-man section playoffs as an established nine-man team.

Cathedral head coach Denny Lux said that getting a win against the Wolverines helped give the Greyhounds a presence in the district.

“It builds so much confidence,” Lux said. “Because to beat a good team, it’s just been a little while since we’ve beaten a good team. We knew coming in, we felt we could match up with them. We didn’t know if our offense, defense were ready for the nine-man field.

“I think one thing we learned going forward now, we’ve got to develop a little more of our passing game. We have good receivers, good quarterback, I think our line did well. Coach Simons, our offensive guy, he’ll take care of that. He’s seen some things that Spring Grove has done, and we’ve seen stuff that Mountain Lake has done, so we can learn from those guys.”

Helget led the Greyhound offense with 136 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 14 carries, while Josh Bentler added 18 carries for 70 yards and a 2-point conversion. Wilfahrt had eight carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Joe Gillis had 17 total tackles and a sack for Cathedral, while Mielke had nine total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Carlson had 11 total tackles for the Greyhounds.

Mielke also hauled in a catch for 12 yards on offense.

After both teams ended their first drives with fumbles, the teams exchanged turnovers on downs before Helget broke away for a one-play, 64-yard rushing touchdown with 9:21 to go in the half to put the Greyhounds up 6-0. After forcing a four-play turnover on downs, Cathedral marched down to the red zone but were unable to capitalize, with a fourth-and-goal run by Bentler being stopped short of the goal line.

Neither team could score again before the half, and MLA took a kneel to go into the break.

The Greyhounds were stifling on defense in the first half, with MLA not even being able to reach midfield on its drives until the fourth quarter.

“Coach Nosbush had a great plan for stopping the run,” Lux said. “Mountain Lake is a very good football team… to hold them like we did the first half was just a good scheme and a lot of good defensive plays, especially by Gillis at linebacker. I thought that we played pretty tough with our three guys. They didn’t throw much, I was expecting them to throw a little bit more the first half … I thought we did a pretty good job overall.”

Cathedral extended its lead in the third quarter with a 15-yard scramble by Wilfahrt, with a 2-point conversion by Bentler giving the Greyhounds a 14-0 lead with 1:48 left in the quarter.

MLA began passing more in the fourth quarter and found some success, despite some pass breakups by the Greyhound defense.

The Wolverines finally made it past midfield and scored on a 6-yard passing touchdown, with a successful 2-point conversion cutting the lead to 14-8.

MLA forced a Cathedral punt, and while Greyhounds punter Colin Anderson pinned the Wolverines at their own 18 with 2:30 left in the game, MLA once again marched down the field, punching in a 3-yard score with 21 seconds left in regulation. On the 2-point try, Cathedral’s Jake Finstad made a game-saving deflection to send the game to overtime, where Cathedral came away with the victory.

Cathedral (1-0, 1-0) travels to play Heron Lake-Okabena on Thursday.


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