JV's late comeback falls short, lose 22-20

Chuck Wright
September 23, 2011

(Novi, Michigan)   The outcome of the fifth game of the Novi JV football was not decided until the final seconds of play.  The Wildcats hosted the South Lyon East Cougars in what turned out to be the most exciting game of the season. Novi started out strong with a long pass from quarterback Isaac Burgess to wide receiver Austin Racicot for a 25 yard gain.  A fumble cut the drive short and Novi turned the ball over to South Lyon East. Although South Lyon completed a pass on their first possession, the Wildcat defense otherwise shut them down.  Jalen Ward tackled the runner for a 12 yard loss and the Cougars were forced to punt from deep in their own territory.   Burgess completed to Ali Taha for a 29 yard gain, Mark Ryan took the option pitch for +9, and Racicot ran around the end for a touchdown.  Klosterman’s Kick was good to bring the Wildcats up 7-0.

The Cougars countered with a long, steady drive downfield. Despite solid tackling by Racicot and Keaton Figurski, South Lyon East was able to pass for a touchdown to even the score.  Ryan ran the ball on first and ten for a big gain, but the Cougar defense stripped the ball causing a turnover. Over the next several plays, the ball changed hands three more times on interceptions- one by Ryan, one by South Lyon East, and one by Aldo Dino. The Cougars were able to score on a long pass, but the extra point was blocked by Billy Ulle to put the Cougars up 13-7.  Novi scored on its next possession, with Ryan hitting a huge hole opened up by the offensive line for a 30 yard gain. Burgess broke several tackles on a keeper to run all the way from the 42 for the Novi touchdown. Novi scored again before the end of the first half on a pass to Ali Taha in the end zone.  Novi 20, South Lyon East 13.

In the second half, the Wildcats were plagued by turnovers, denying the offense an opportunity to score on early possessions. South Lyon East recovered a stripped ball and inched the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard run up the middle. The extra point was no good, so Novi kept the lead 20-19. The remainder of the game was a battle of the defenses.  A monster sack by Marshall Sayles for a 10 yard loss and a great solo tackle by Keaton Figurski forced the Cougars to punt. Unfortunately, a turnover returned the ball to South Lyon East. The Cougars connected on a series of mid-range passes and got close enough for a late-game field goal to take the lead 22-20. South Lyon East got into field goal range again in the closing minutes of the game, but this time the kick went wide.  With just over a minute remaining, the Wildcat offense began to drive downfield.  Burgess completed a great pass to Billy Ulle, who ran out of bounds at the 37 to stop the clock. Racicot turned a well defended screen into a first down with pure running ability.  As the final seconds ticked off, the Wildcats were unable to reach the end zone and the ball turned over to South Lyon East on downs. The Cougar quarterback took a knee to end the game: Novi 20, South Lyon East 22.