JV defeats Salem, 35-21

Chuck Wright
September 16, 2011

(Plymouth, Michigan)   Game 4 of the JV season pitted Novi against the Plymouth-Salem Rocks. Coming off a tough loss, the Wildcats clearly came to play. Several players, including quarterback Isaac Burgess, were sidelined with injuries and the ranks were thin.  From the opening possession, Austin Racicot, who normally starts at wide receiver, took over the QB duties and drove the Wildcats down field. The drive was kept alive by kicker Bryan Klosterman, who ran a broken punt for a first down.  Strong runs by Racicot and fullback Mark Ryan brought Novi in for the touchdown. The kick was good to bring the Wildcats up 7-0.

The Novi defense virtually shut down the Rocks in the first half. Kudos to defensive linemen Mark Ward and Jack Twomey, who hit the Plymouth ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage.  Andrew Wilchynski consistently put pressure on the Rocks quarterback, forcing incompletions.  Plymouth’s first two possessions resulted in little progress downfield, and they were forced to punt on both series.  The Wildcats third drive culminated with a 27 yard TD pass to Daniel Mellon to put Novi up 14-0. The Novi defense again showed their mettle, with linebackers Mark Ryan and Mark Wojtylo repeatedly tackling the Salem ball carriers for negative yardage. Marshall Sayles teamed with Racicot to sack the Salem quarterback for a twelve yard loss.  The Rocks were able to score with one minute remaining in the half, after a Novi interception was called back.  This action-packed half of football was not over yet: with only seconds remaining, Jeff Baker capitalized on excellent blocking and returned the kickoff nearly all the way to the end zone.  Score at the half: Novi 14, Salem 7.

Salem’s first possession of the second half was cut short by fumble, recovered by the Wildcats.  A long pass over middle to Mellon set up Novi’s first scoring drive, and fullback Mark Ryan ran for the touchdown. Klosterman’s kick was good, putting Novi up 21-7.  Salem had a great runback on the kickoff, returning the ball to the Novi 43 yard line. The Rocks drove the rest of the way downfield, and scored on a short run to bring the score to 21-14. Novi had a great kickoff return of its own, with Jalen Ward returning to the 41 yard line. Unfortunately, the offense stalled, and Novi turned over possession on a fumble, recovered by Salem.  Despite excellent open field tackling by Ali Taha and Keith Pravato, Salem drove downfield and competed a touchdown pass to even the score 21-21.

Novi regained its momentum during the fourth quarter. Ryan sprinted through a massive hole in the right side of the line (compliments of center Stevie Davis, guard Ben Wright and tackle Andrew Wilchynski) for a first down. Racicot drove to the 1 yard line, and Ryan scored to put the Wildcats up by a touchdown. The Rocks attempted to catch up, but were thwarted by pass pressure by Ryan, and great coverage by freshman defensive back Billy Ulle. The Rocks turned the ball over to Novi on downs, and the Cats went to work again, this time with Ulle at quarterback. On his second pass, Ulle connected with Racicot, who took it all the way for another Novi touchdown.  Salem’s final possession was terminated by Aldo Dino’s impressive interception and return. The Wildcats took over with less than a minute remaining, and took a knee to run out the clock. Final score: Novi 35, Salem 21.