The Hanover Wildcats traveled to Beloit on Friday night in the 8-Man Division II playoffs to take on the only remaining undefeated team in DII, the St. John’s/Tipton Blujays. Hanover got the ball first and fumbled on their opening possession, but from that point on, the Wildcats made few mistakes on their way to an early finish at O’Brien Field, as the game was called with four minutes remaining in the third quarter and Hanover winning 58-12.
Right after Hanover had turned the ball over on their opening drive, St. John’s/Tipton gave the ball right back to Hanover with a fumble on their first possession. Ethan Diederich capped the Wildcats second drive with a 2-yard TD run. Ethan went on to score two more times on the ground in the first half with runs of two and four yards, and Trevor Jueneman added two touchdowns including a 7-yard pass reception from Jerod Diederich and a 30 yard run. Hanover led at halftime 36-6, as Josh Wessling scored the lone offensive touchdown of the game for St. John’s/Tipton on a 3-yard run.
The second half was more of the same for Hanover as Derrick Gerard got things started with an 11-yard fumble return for a touchdown on the Blujays’ first drive. Ethan Diederich added another TD run in the second half, this time from eight yards out, to give Hanover a 50-6 lead early in the third quarter.
On the kickoff following the Diederich’s 8-yard TD run, Josh Wessling of St. John’s/Tipton returned the kick 74 yards for a Blujay touchdown, and on the ensuing kickoff, the Blujays recovered a Hanover fumble at the Wildcats 14 yard line. The Hanover defense stepped up though and forced the Blujay offense to move backwards on the possession and punt the football away.
On the next possession for the Wildcats, Jueneman raced 39 yards for a Hanover touchdown and Chad Alexander added the two-point conversion on the run to seal the game for the Wildcats, 58-12.
Jueneman led the way offensively for Hanover with 11 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns rushing, while also catching three passes for 42 yards and a TD. Jerod Diederich completed 7 of his 9 pass attempts for 115 yards and a TD, while Ethan Diederich ran for just 44 yards on 12 carries, but had four TD’s in the game.
St. John’s/Tipton was led by Josh Wessling who ended the night with 23 carries for 52 yards and a TD. The Blujays finished the season 11-1 with the loss.
The win for Hanover moved their record to 11-1 and more importantly secured their spot in the 8-Man Division II State Championship Game at Fischer Field in Newton next Saturday, marking the third consecutive season the Wildcats will play in the State Championship Game. In 2007, they lost to Macksville 24-20 in the DI championship, and last season, they defeated Victoria in the DII title game 46-14. This year’s opponent will be the Quiviria Heights Thunderbirds who defeated Victoria 42-20 on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:45 next Saturday in Newton.