Novi takes Baseline Jug away from rival Northville

Brad Emons
October 13, 2017
Republished with permission of the Novi News

Gilliam, Klosterman lead ground game in 21-6 victory


The eight-year itch is over.
 
Using an exclusive ground attack and a suffocating defense, Novi put together its most complete football performance of the season Friday night with a convincing 21-6 win over rival Northville.
 
The 3-5 Wildcats, who were eliminated from the playoff picture two weeks ago, looked like a postseason team as they piled up 369 total yards without attempting a pass while holding the 3-5 Mustangs to 180 in total yards.
 
But more importantly, Novi gained back the coveted Baseline Jug for the first time since 2008.
 
"First of all our O-line put on a show tonight," said Novi senior quarter Sean Gilliam, who rushed for a game-best 196 yards on 21 carries. "They were opening the biggest holes we've had all season. They played a great game tonight and (Kyle) Klosterman ran hard, powerful . . . they couldn't tackle him. And the O-line opened up some great lanes for me, too. It was a good team win."
 
Klosterman, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, contributed 151 yards rushing on 18 carries and scored all three of Northville's touchdowns on runs of 8, 59 and 23 yards.
 
"We kind of had a game plan where we were just going to pound the ball, so we stuck with that game plan," Gilliam said."We didn't pass one time, but we came just came in thinking run, run, run, run."
 
The Wildcats, who led 7-6 at halftime,d put the game away with a pair of third quarter Klosterman TDs as they went with the exclusive ground attack after top senior wide receiver Traveon Maddox went down the previous week with a shoulder injury.
 
"Tonight's a first," Novi coach Jeff Burnside said. "We simplified. We went back to what we did. We were down Traveon obviously, so we had change some things. We took a receiver off and put in a tight end and we're going to pound the ball, pound the ball. If it's third-and-long we're going to pound the ball. We got ourselves into manageable downs all night and we were able to pick up some third-and-longs running the ball. That was good. That breaks your will when you're picking up third-and-eights on the ground."
 
Northville's elite kicker Jake Moody, who has a 58-, 57- and 55-yard field goals to his credit this season, attempted only one extra point all night, which was blocked by Chad Howell in the first quarter after Nicholas Prystash caught a 27-yard TD pass from Christian Williams.
 
But Northville's early 6-0 lead was short-lived.
 
"It's was great to get the Jug back," said Howell, who plays both ways on the offensive and defensive lines. "We've been waiting for so long for this. We worked so hard, we practiced so hard. And tonight the defense really showed. We knew we had to play big and we came out and played just like we had to . . . executed perfectly."
 
Here are four other takeaways: 
 
Wildcats' brick wall: Northville was limited to 32 yards rushing on 11 attempts, while quarterbacks Jon Michalak, a senior, and Williams, a sophomore, were a combined 12-of-32 for 142 yards.
 
Tyler VanKirk led way with 6.5 tackles, while Matthew Wright, Klosterman added four solo tackles each. Deshaun Clayton also added a sack.
 
Meanwhile, Northville transfer Antonio Washington had two interceptions, while Nikolas Williams added one.
 
"It's kind of tricky because they flip between the two quarterbacks," Howell said. "We just know we've got to contain both them because they're good athletes and they can both throw the ball."
 
Proud coach: Burnside got his first victory ever over the Mustangs and he couldn't have been happier afterwards.
 
"Lights out tonight," he said. "This is the first game all season where I felt like we played good in all three phases. We eliminated our mistakes. We had a couple key penalties, but for the most part defense didn't make any mistakes. Offense didn't make any mistakes and special teams . . . what a huge kick by Blake King at the end of the night to pin them on their goal line right there and run that clock out."
 
Jug history: It was the 49th meeting between the two schools and Northville now leads series, 25-24.
 
"It's my first year at Novi, but the excitement feels great," said Gilliam, a transfer from West Bloomfield.
 
The last time Novi tasted victory against Northville was in 2008 by a 14-12 score.
 
"Man, I'm so proud of these kids," said Burnside, who also got his first win against its rival. "They could have given in. We go to 2-5 and we're not making the playoffs and we could be thinking we're done. Man, I'm proud of them."
 
Shining lights: Prystash, a 5-6, 153-pound junior, injected some life into the Northville offense with a game-best eight catches for 115 yards to go along with kick returns of 56 and 23 yards.
 
On the defensive side, Jordan Grewe had four solo tackles and four assists, while Max Cooper had two tackles for loss.