Bremen slams Oilers, headed to Final Four

Bremen's Lions celebrate heading to semi-state
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

The weather conditions may have been the worst of the season, but Bremen may have played its best.
Four touchdown passes and three interceptions that eventually led to points were keys to the Lions’ 42-13 dismantling of previously undefeated Whiting to win the Class 2A regional championship at cold and windy Don Bunge Field Friday night.
“Absolutely a lot of fun,” said Bremen head coach Jordan Leeper. “You plan for this, but you don’t expect it to actually happen. They are a good team, but our guys came out and played the game of their careers. Now we’ve got to go get another one.”
The victory is the eighth regional all-time for Bremen (11-2) who will now play in the final four (semistate) for the first time since 2011. The Lions lost at this juncture of the playoffs their last three attempts (’13, ’14,’15), the most recent to none other than Whiting.
The Oilers (12-1) came into this one ranked No. 3 in the AP poll, allowing just 5.9 points per contest. Bremen took care of that on its first possession, a ball-hogging 12-play 84-yard drive culminating with a one-yard plunge by Jacob Wunder. Whiting matched that with a short scoring drive, but the second quarter was the turning point.
Playing with the wind, Justin Zumbrun had catches of 22 and 21 yards from quarterback Ryan Caldwell, the second one ending a seven-play scoring drive. After alternating punts – Bremen’s only boot of the night, Whiting’s went 1 yard – an Alex Stouder interception gave the Lions the ball at the 20 and six plays later were back in the end zone when Caldwell found Sam Huffman for the first of his three scoring receptions.
Five plays later and 1:03 left before halftime, Hunter Bennitt picked off a pass and Nathan Mullen blasted into the end zone five plays later and the lead had ballooned to 28-7. Key plays were receptions by Mullen (21 yards) and Huffman (11).
The teams swapped TDs in the third quarter to make it 35-13 heading into the fourth. Trying to get back into the game, Whiting tried consecutive onside kicks in the third – one to start the half and the other after its final TD. The first one traveled minus-two yards, the other only eight.
Evan Manges snared the Lions’ third INT of the game early in the final frame and took it 80-some yards for an apparent score, but a block in the back nullified the TD. Still with good field position, Bremen found the end zone in 10 plays to cap the night off.
“We’ve done a good job taking away the football all year and we took advantage of the opportunities they gave us,” Leeper added.
Caldwell finished 8-for-11 passing for 94 yards and the four TDs. Huffman only had 30 yards receiving on his five receptions, but three we caught in the end zone. Mullen carried the ball 35 times for 179 yards.
“(Huffman) just grinds and does a lot of the dirty work,” Leeper said of the senior tight end. “He was able to go get balls in the end zone and that’s what I expect him to do.”
Whiting star running back Nino Barbosa was held in check most of the night, but still finished with 139 yards on 23 carries. The Oilers completed just 3-of-8 passes for a paltry 35 yards.
“It was a total team effort,” Leeper concluded. “It doesn’t take one guy to stop a team like that. It takes 11 and I thought we executed just the way we needed to. I was surprised at how well our guys played, but that’s a pleasant surprise to have.”
Bremen travels to Eastbrook (12-1, No. 5 AP/No. 3 Coaches) in next week’s semistate game.
Class 2A Regional
At Bremen
Whiting 7 0 6 0 - 13
Bremen 7 21 7 7 - 42
B – Jacob Wunder 1 run (Collin Kerr kick)
W – Tom Davenport 4 run (Nino Barbosa kick)
B – Justin Zumbrun 21 pass from Ryan Caldwell (Kerr kick)
B – Sam Huffman 3 pass from Caldwell (Kerr kick)
B – Nathan Mullen 5 run (Kerr kick)
W – Davenport 1 run (pass failed)
B – Huffman 5 pass from Caldwell (Kerr kick)
B – Huffman 4 pass from Caldwell (Kerr kick)