Breyer Menke’s 25-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining lifted No. 3-rated Hastings to a 45-42 victory over No. 8 Northwest Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Class B state football playoffs at Viking Field.
The game-winning kick was originally a 30-yard attempt, but Northwest was flagged for being offsides. With the ball moved 5 yards closer, Menke converted the go-ahead field goal that sent the Tigers (9-1) to the state semifinals for the first time since 2000.
“Making that kick isn’t easy to do,” said Hastings coach Charlie Shoemaker, who had watched his junior kicker miss two point-after kicks — one was blocked — earlier in the contest. “(Menke) can make it from the 20, but he’s really good with 5 more yards. That was a really big penalty.
“I was proud of those guys. We struggled with PATs, so for Breyer to step up there and hit it, that’s just awesome.”
Menke’s field goal proved to be the difference in a game that featured plenty of touchdowns. Hastings finished with 541 total yards and Northwest (6-4) had 495 as the two teams combined for 1,036 yards of total offense.
“This was exactly the kind of game I had envisioned — I just knew it was going to be a fight to the finish,” said Shoemaker, whose team beat the Vikings 30-19 two weeks earlier on the same field. “(Northwest) played well and we played well. It was probably one of the cleaner football games I’ve seen on both sides of the ball in all three phases. Both teams should be proud.”
Hastings quarterback Jarrett Synek was 20 of 33 passing for 339 yards, including a 67-yard TD strike. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior also rushed 18 times for 121 yards and two scores.
“He’s just a warrior — it’s unbelievable,” Shoemaker said of Synek.
“He took some licks and he just keeps on going and he keeps a calm demeanor out there with everybody. Our guys rally behind him so much. He’s just a great leader.”
Austin Nauert had six receptions for 101 yards, including a clutch 23-yard catch to put Hastings at Northwest’s 1-yard line with 1:47 to play and help set up the winning field goal. Carson Shoemaker added six catches for 122 yards, including a 67-yard TD.
Hastings took a 13-0 first-quarter lead and trailed only once when Northwest pulled ahead 14-13 with 6:55 remaining in the second quarter. Synek answered with an 8-yard TD run and a two-point conversion run by Zaide Weidner put the Tigers ahead 21-14 at halftime.
Northwest tied it a 21-21 on Sam Hartman’s 59-yard TD pass to Austin Cooley with 7:36 left in the third quarter, but Hastings had the answer again. Synek’s 23-yard TD run and 67-yard scoring pass to Shoemaker moved the Tigers ahead 35-21 with 4:36 left in the third.
A 1-yard TD run by Weidner with 10 minutes to play gave Hastings a 42-28 advantage.
“We just could never seem to get a leg up and all night long, it seemed like we were playing catch-up,” Northwest coach Kevin Stein said. “Hastings does a great job and Jarrett Synek had a terrific night, as always. They kept us off-balance.”
But Hartman and the Northwest offense simply wouldn’t go away. The junior threw TD passes of 30 yards to Parker Janky and 21 yards to Cooley, tying the contest at 42-42 with 2:36 remaining.
Hartman finished 10 of 21 passing for 257 yards and five TDs. He also rushed for 157 yards on 26 carries, including a 44-yard TD scamper in the first quarter.
“When we had our backs against the wall early, Sam had a couple of big runs that showed great athleticism,” Stein said. “He kept us in the game the whole night.”
Cooley finished with five receptions for 173 yards and two TDs. Janky had 77 yards on four catches, including a pair of TDs.
Trailing by three points with 12 seconds left, Northwest’s final chance to rally was thwarted when a squib kick was recovered by Hastings at the Vikings’ 27.
Even in defeat, Stein said he was proud of his squad.
“I can’t say thank you enough — I can’t put it in all caps or bold letters enough — for the amount of hours and days and getting up early and all the sweat they gave and all the frustration and challenges they fought through,” Stein said. “I think this team exceeded all expectations.”
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