The Nouvel Catholice Central H.S. football team improved to 4-0 with an impressive 46-0 win over St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, a Canadian high school team from London, ON. with close to 900 students.
Nouvel head coach Mike Boyd was a bit concerned after seeing the size of the Canadian players stepping off the bus, but that was quickly put to rest following a punt returned for a TD by senior Kenny Kujawa, and an interception returned for a TD by senior Peter Snyder, which was followed by a second Snyder pick, and an interception by Kujawa, returned to the 1-yard line, setting up a third and fourth TD early on.
“They're a big team, we saw them on film and they are, physically, a very big group of guys, I was really concerned when I saw them come in” Boyd admitted. “But, jeez, you talk about big plays, you know Kenny (Kujawa) has the punt return, and Pete's (Snyder) two picks, we had a lot of big plays, and we didn't stop with the big plays. We had the pick's, and offensively, we were throwing the football well.”
Following a first series stop, Nouvel forced a St. Thomas punt down to the Nouvel 28-yard line, where Kujawa fielded it and scampered 72 yards for a touchdown, as junior kicker Jacob Burr split the upright's on the extra point for a 7-0 NCC lead with 10:16 left in the opening quarter.
The Panther's kept its defensive machine rolling on the next series when Snyder intercepted St. Thomas quarterback Will Pollard's pass around midfield and returned it for a 40-yard pick-six TD. Burr's kick sailed wide right, as Nouvel jumped out to a 13-0 lead with 8:38 to play in the first quarter.
Snyder would give the Panther's the ball back with his second interception of the game near the St. Thomas 40, which he returned to the 29 yard line, setting up a 6 yard rushing touchdown by junior Josh Kuligowski. The 2-point try failed as Nouvel extended its lead to 19-0 with 4:50 left in the opening quarter.
Kujawa then intercepted a Pollard pass at the 28 yard line, and nearly scored before he was forced out of bounds inches from the goal line, setting up a keeper TD by senior quarterback Tate Hausback. The extra point kick failed as Nouvel padded its lead to 25-0 with 4:01 left to play in the first quarter.
After a dominant first quarter by the Panther defense; Hausbeck (a 6-foot-3, 204-pound, fast and elusive, physically gifted running QB with a deadly arm and division-1 potential) finally had his chance to showcase his talents in the second quarter.
“He just keeps so many plays alive for us, and his decision making just continues to get better, and better, and better,” Boyd said of his senior QB. “It makes it really fun for us as a coaching staff to put together an offensive game plan, when you have a kid who can execute.”
Hausbeck hit Snyder with a 10-yard pass for a touchdown (extra point failed) as the Panthers extended its lead to 31-0 with 10:40 left in the second quarter, before Hausbeck showed off his speed with a 9-yard TD run (Burr's extra point kick was good) for a 38-0 Nouvel lead with 3:46 to play in the first half.
St. Thomas was pinned deep with 1:54 left in the first half and chose to have its punter run out of the back of the end zone for a safety rather than chance another Nouvel TD, giving NCC a 40-0 halftime lead.
Hausbeck came out and hit sophomore Sam Buckingham with a 69 yard TD pass (kick failed) for a 46-0 lead to round out the scoring with 4:08 left in the third quarter, as the reserve players from both teams finished out the game.
Hausbeck had 227 total yards with 4 touchdowns, completing 13 of 17 passes for 200 yards (including 2-passing TD's) while carrying the ball 7 times for another 27 yards on the ground (adding 2 rushing TD's) to lead the Panther offense.
Kujawa fnished with 144 all-purpose yards with his 72 yard punt return for a TD, while adding 3 catches for 25 yards, including his interception, which was returned 27 yards on defense.
Snyder had 77 all-purpose yards, with 2 catches for 26 receiving yards and 1-receiving TD on offense, and the 40 yard pick-six for a TD on defense.
Kuligowski carried the ball 12 times for 85 yards and 1 rushing TD to lead the Panther's on the ground.
Nouvel senior Isaiah Rosales caught 5 passes for 58 yards, while Buckingham had 1 catch for 69 yards and the TD.
The Panthers will now prepare for a big test next week with the hopes of improving to 5-0 when it welcomes Flint Beecher H.S. for a 7 pm homecoming game.