JV holds off Bulldogs, 47-40

By Chuck Wright

(Novi, Michigan)   The 2011 JV football season got off to a strong start with an exciting 47-40 win over the Chelsea Bulldogs on Thursday night.  The Wildcats scored on the first drive with a 21 yard pass to Austin Racicot.  Quarterback Isaac Burgess continued to pick apart the Bulldog defense with a balanced running and passing attack.  His strong offensive line gave him plenty of options, and on Novi’s second possession he used the time to complete a long pass to wide receiver Jeff Baker, who beat a double coverage and sprinted for another Novi TD.  Burgess balanced his attack with hand-offs to fullback Mark Ryan, who bulldozed through the middle, often breaking tackles and dragging the Bulldog defense on his way to huge gains.

The Chelsea offense had limited success running the ball, and was able to break several plays through the center of the Novi defense. Overall, Chelsea struggled to move the ball under relentless pass rush pressure from Novi’s defensive line.  The reverse was broken up several times by Ryan, also playing linebacker. Bulldog gains came mainly on completed deep passes, as well as strong kick returns.   Ali Taha and Billy Ulle demonstrated excellent open field tackling, which minimized Chelsea’s scoring chances.

The Bulldogs came roaring back in the second half, scoring on their first possession. The Wildcats countered with a strong kickoff return by Racicot to the 32 yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Ryan blasted through the middle for another big gain. The offensive line gave Burgess plenty of time to complete a long pass to Racicot for a Wildcat touchdown.

Throughout the balance of the second half, the Wildcats moved the ball well, but were plagued by holding penalties. The teams traded touchdowns, with Burgess keeping the ball and swinging wide for a score. During the final ten minutes, the Novi defensive line turned up the heat.  Standout Marshall Sayles wreaked havoc on the Bulldog backfield and racked up several sacks. With Novi up 47 to 40, and only 3 minutes remaining, Chelsea took the ball on their own 11 yard line. The Wildcat defense pulled out the stops, causing three incompletions and a loss of 4 yards on the sole Chelsea running play. The ball turned over on downs and Burgess took a knee to end the game and seal the win.