Third-seeded Bremen reeled off 28 straight points after halftime and went on to post a 28-13 victory over sixth-seeded St. Henry in the third round of the Division VII playoffs.

By Colin Foster for Press Pros
NEW BREMEN — The wheels on the bus went round and round for New Bremen in the second half Friday night.
And the wheels fell off for St. Henry.
The script appeared to be headed in the direction of a mild upset, but the Cardinals flipped said script in a hurry.
Third-seeded Bremen reeled off 28 straight points after halftime and went on to post a 28-13 victory over sixth-seeded St. Henry in the third round of the Division VII playoffs.
St. Henry led 7-0 at halftime after a late touchdown throw from sophomore quarterback Bryce Brookhart to Carter Ontrop. But Bremen showed a little more fire and focus on the mud-soaked field in the second half. Quarterback Mitchell Hays rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another. A pair of special-teams blunders helped bounce the game in Bremen’s favor, too.

St Henry’s KJ Jacobs chugs for yardage, and takes Wyatt Dicke with him in Friday’s game with New Bremen.

“A lot of times you see our coaches get on us,” Hays said. “(Offensive coordinator/ QB coach) Wince Morris did a great job of getting in and letting our guys know that we only have two more quarters or it’s going to be it for the seniors, so we better figure it out soon. That’s what we did.”
Defense dominated the first half … at least for the opening 23 minutes.
Bremen punted five times and St. Henry booted three — one of which was a 59-yard shot off the foot of Bennett Gels. That was one of few highlights by the special teams of St. Henry, however.
Hays and running back Zach Bertke popped a couple of big runs early on for the Cardinals, but they had drives stall out near midfield three times. They also gained just one yard after taking over at the St. Henry 41-yard line late in the first half and were forced to punt. That left time for Brookhart to operate in the 2-minute drill.

New Bremen quarterback Mitchell Hays tries to shake a tackle attempt in Friday’s win.

Based on how the first half had gone, who would have thought that the drive would end in points? But it did.

A tough, 22-yard run by Owen Lefeld gave St. Henry life. With time winding down in the half, Ontrop ran a post and was hit in stride by Brookhart for a 33-yard touchdown. The extra point by Logan Lefeld made it 7-0 with four ticks left on the clock.
The Redskins did a lot of punting in the second half, though.
Bremen tied the game on its first possession. Hays hit Trevor Bergman for a 17-yard pop on a fourth-and-6. Bertke had a pair of fourth-and-short conversions, and Hays capped off the drive with a 5-yard TD run.

The Cardinal QB would be back in the end zone a few minutes later.

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After forcing St. Henry into its second punt of the quarter, David Homan put pressure on the punter Gels, who dropped the ball, picked it up and barely got a foot on what ended up being logged as a negative 5-yard punt.
Hays followed with a 25-yard scoot before completing another series with a 5-yard scoring run. Owen Gabel’s extra point gave New Bremen a 14-7 lead.

“We just talked about this being adversity (at halftime). We knew we were going to face this at some point in the playoffs,” New Bremen coach Chris Schmidt said. “We just said there’s two ways we can respond to it. We can get upset and make excuses and point fingers and do this and that or we can suck it up and just play. Battle through it. Do our jobs. When the opportunities present themselves, try to take advantage and put ourselves in the best position possible. The kids just decided to do that.

New Bremen’s Branxton Krauss has a horizontal moment in Friday’s game with St. Henry.

“A couple of those plays, we just rode Hays’ back,” he added. “It was just let’s get it to Mitchell and see what he can do. Let’s see if he can make a play for us. He’s our playmaker, and fortunately he did.”
He made a couple more plays, too.
After falling behind, deja vu occurred for St. Henry’s special teams.
This time, Dan Homan blocked a punt and gave Bremen short field. It led to a 1-yard touchdown by Bertke early in the fourth quarter.
A 40-yard passing strike from Hays to Dan Homan completed the 28-0 run midway through the fourth quarter.

New Bremen’s Wyatt Dicke stops this Redskins’ progress in Friday’s win.

“When you come play a rain game on the road, in the mud, in the playoffs, you’ve got to bring your defense and your kicking game,” St. Henry coach Brad Luthman. “On the first drive of the second half, we let them convert a fourth-and-5 when we were out of sorts, and then we got two punts blocked. That was the story of the game. … I don’t think we played bad defense.

“I’m pretty proud of the effort,” he added. “I’m proud of how much it means to them — I mean, there’s a lot of pain on their faces right now. I’d be pretty disappointed if they were just OK with it. You can tell it means a lot.”
Hays finished his night with 88 passing yards and a game-high 102 rushing yards on 22 carries. Brookhart completed 9-of-21 passes for 132 yards and two TDs, the second of which was a 26-yarder to Ontrop late in the fourth quarter. Ontrop had five catches for 58 yards.
New Bremen outgained St. Henry 244-178.
After the game, Schimidt made it a point to compliment Luthman and the Redskins on their turnaround after a 1-9 season in 2019. St. Henry ended its fall 5-3. New Bremen improved to 6-2.
The Cardinals are ready to keep the wheels rolling going forward.
Up next Friday is a visit to Fort Loramie, which advanced to the regional semifinal with a 42-0 win over Ansonia. The winner would likely get a date with defending state champion Marion Local, which defeated Bremen in last year’s regional final.

“When it’s your senior year, you’ve got to expect to win a state title,” Hays said. “Every game you win, you’ve got to celebrate the night up but then you’re back to work the next week. I know Loramie’s a tough team. They’re going to be hard-nosed. If we can corral them, then we know we got Marion the next week and that’s going to be a good game. But we’ve got to keep our heads focused on this next week.”

Dan Homan’s blocked punt (#88) really got things rolling for the Cardinals in the second half.

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