NEW MADISON – The Tri-Village Patriots overcame a 21-0 deficit to New Bremen by scoring 32 unanswered points and then held off the defending DVII state football champ’s comeback effort for a 32-29 win.
The Cardinals got on the board first on a 38-yard scoring strike to take an early 7-0 lead.
New Bremen scored two more times, a 94-yard run by the MAC player of the year David Homan and a 6-yard Homan plunge to grab a 21-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.
As if a 21-point deficit wasn’t enough to deal with the Patriots would have to go the rest of the way without 4-year starting offensive/defensive lineman and center Wyatt Plush who went down with a leg injury ending his season.
The Midwest Athletic Conference proudly touts their dominance in the football play-offs with a record of 74-5 in the Regional Quarterfinals and 72-7 in the Regional Semifinals against Non-MAC Schools so it’s understandable many would consider the odds of Tri-Village being able to come-back very low.
But someone forgot to tell Tri-Village now just in their 5th year of Varsity football that the odds were against them.
The Patriots collected themselves and struck back on a 34-yard pass from Braden Keating to Justin Finkbine to get on the scoreboard at the 5-minute mark in the 2nd quarter.
The Patriots then stopped the Cards just before the half as they missed a field goal to make the game 21-6 at the break.
“We had a couple guys wrong in a few spots early in the game that gave up a touchdown on the fade and then the long run by Homan and when you play a good team like New Bremen they’re going to make you pay,” Tri-Village coach Robert Burk said about the Patriots deficit in the first half.
“At halftime we harped on the kids to do what they were coached to do, and I believe they responded well,” Burk added.
Tri-Village made a few adjustments at the half as many good teams do and they would pay dividends.
“We brought Josh Scantland and Justin Finkbine inside to a tight end wing set and that left Josh Randal out on the edge one-on-one,” Burk stated.
Just a few plays into the 3rd quarter Keating would connect with Randall on 30-yard pass for a big play that eventually resulted in Reed Wehr going in for a 2-yard touchdown as the Patriots closed the gap to 21-12.
Tri-Village would score again on the next possession with Reed Wehr going around the right side and then cutting back to the middle and 50-yards later a TD. But the PATS failed to convert for the 3rd time and trailed 21-18 by the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Patriots snared the lead away from New Bremen in the 3rd quarter on a 5-yard toss from Keating to Josh Scantland. Scantland was able to go to his knees to pull the ball in just before it hit the turf then fall back to secure the ball for the TD. Keating’s extra point kick was good, and the Patriots now led 25-21.
New Bremen moved the ball into the red zone on their next drive to try and answer but coughed it up on a tackle for a loss and the Patriots wouldn’t waste that opportunity.
Two plays later Keating tossed a short pass to Reed Wehr who made 3 cuts across the field each time breaking ankles and finding another seam running 120 yards for a 77-yard touchdown electrifying the Patriot fans and stunning New Bremen as their sideline and fans fell silent.
The Patriots now led 32-21 with 5 minutes to go which would seem like an eternity.
New Bremen behind Homan went to work with Tri-Village trying not to give up a big play and keep the clock running. The Cardinals eventually scored to pull within in a field goal 32-29 with 1:35 left to play.
Tri-Village was able to get a first down and then run out the clock for the improbable come-back upsetting New Bremen something many said couldn’t be done.
“Nobody thought we were going to be able to beat this team. We obviously felt like we could match-up with them, but you still must go out on the field and get the job done and our kids stepped up and got the job done. I can’t really describe how proud I am of our guys. Our All-State quarterback goes down week 1 and then our best offensive lineman goes down in the 1st quarter and to have our guys step up and keep playing and believing eventually led us to where we could string enough good plays together to push us over the top,” coach Burk said after the game.
“We’ve been through some battles, and we didn’t want to go home without giving everything we had, and they laid it on the line in the 2nd half and now we get to play again next week,” Burk added.
“Reed Wehr and Braden Keating were just lights out for us. Keating does anything we ask him to do, he’s a true warrior and was a 100% locked in tonight including lead blocking for us, a lot of quarterbacks won’t do that, both of those guys made big plays tonight,” Burk praised.
Wehr had 23 carries for 134 yards and 2 rushing TD’s and 1 catch for 77-yards for a TD.
Offensively Keating was 14-20 passing for 265 yards 3 TD’s.
Justin Finkbine had 5 catches for 94 yards and 1 TD and Josh Scantland had 2 catches for 20 yard and 1 TD.
“I’m so proud of all our kids, in the face of great adversity all of them stepped up. They had Wyatt Plush, Layne Sarver and each other’s back,” Burk said.
As a reporter It’s hard not to talk about the play of Reed Wehr, Braden Keating, Justin Finkbine and Josh Scantland … but at the end of the day it’s a total team effort with every man doing their job to earn the win and coach Burk touched on that.
“So many different guys stepped up in so many ways and all contributed to make this a special night for our program and this team, Burk beamed.
I have to thank the administration at Tri-Village, the community and student section too, it was a great atmosphere and our kids fed on it,” Burk complimented.
“We love football here and we are so excited to get another week together,” Burk concluded.
The Patriots now 11-1 on the year will take on another MAC opponent 9-3 St. Henry next Saturday, 7pm at Lima Bath High School.