Saginaw Nouvel CC kicked off the 2019 football season with 58-42 victory over Sandusky High School in a shootout which featured just one punt throughout the entire game at Woodward Field in Sandusky, MI Thursday night.
NCC had been protecting a 51-42 lead with 2:20 left in regulation when Sandusky began moving the ball very well, but Nouvel junior linebacker Brady Alverson put the game out of reach for good when he intercepted a pass by Redskin QB Matt Carlson at the NCC 36-yard line and returned it 64-yards for a touchdown to secure the 58-42 victory for the Panthers.
The Redskins would strike first, pulling off the old 'hide-the-ball' trick, which allowed junior Delorrin Wedge to return the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown as junior Zach Franzel carried in the 2-point conversion for an early 8-0 Sandusky lead.
Nouvel answered when junior quarterback Jack Kujawa sparked an impressive opening drive, completing 5 of his first 7 passes for 48 yards, before capping the drive with a 1-yard rushing TD as Alverson kicked the extra point to cut the Redskins lead to 8-7 with 6:25 to play in the first quarter.
Sandusky responded with a 23-yard rushing TD by Delorrin, followed by a 2-point conversion from Franzel for a 16-7 Sandusky lead at the end of the first quarter.
Kujawa went to work picking apart the Sandusky secondary with a 57-yard TD pass to NCC senior WR Sam Buckingham as Alverson kicked the extra point to cut the Redskins lead to 16-14 early in the second quarter, before NCC senior Nick Kennedy recovered an onside kick to keep the Panthers on offense, setting up a 55-yard TD pass from Kujawa to NCC senior WR John Paul LeFevre, as Alverson nailed the extra point for Nouvel's first lead of the game (21-16) with 8:12 left in the first half.
The Sandusky rushing attack continued to pound the ball, as Carlson eventually broke free for a 16-yard TD run to give the Redskins a 22-21 lead with 4:08 left in the half after the Panthers had managed to stop the 2-point try.
The Panthers, however, would not be denied going into the half, as Kujawa found Nouvel senior WR Harry Dwan for a 16-yard TD strike, as Alverson kicked the extra point for a 28-22 NCC halftime lead.
Nouvel came out of the half determined to put the ball on the ground, feeding NCC junior running back Ashton Wright, who broke loose for an 8-yard rushing TD, while Kujawa followed with a 2-point conversion pass to Alverson for a 36-22 lead with 9:44 left in the third quarter.
The Redskins continued to respond with big plays, as sophomore RB Martin Tovar managed to get behind the Nouvel defense for a 64-yard TD scamper, as the Panther D stepped up with a big stop on the 2-point try, minimizing the damage to maintain a 36-28 lead with 9:32 left in the third.
NCC aired it out on the next drive when Kujawa and Buckingham hooked up again, this time for a 25-yard TD as Alverson kicked the PAT for a 43-28 Nouvel lead with 7:31 left in the the third quarter, while Carlson closed out the third quarter with a 1-yard TD run for Sandusky, adding his own 2-point conversion run to cut the NCC lead to 43-36 just 27-seconds before the start of the fourth quarter.
Kujawa hooked up with his fourth different receiver when he hit NCC senior WR Zaiden Mitchell for a 7-yard TD pass then hit Mitchell with a 2-point conversion pass for a 51-36 lead early in the fourth, while Sandusky added one more rushing TD, but the Panther defense would prevent the crucial 2-point try once again.
Kujawa paced the Nouvel offensive attack, completing 24 of his 36 passes for 381 yards through the air with 6-TD's (5-passing and 1-rushing) while Buckingham hauled in 2-TD receptions with over 100 receiving yards, along with LeFevre who led the NCC receivers with 6-catches for 164-receiving yards and 1-TD reception.
Dwan and Mitchell accounted for the remaining Panther TD receptions, while Wright added a rushing TD and Alverson capped the scoring with the 64 yard interception returned for a TD.
Nouvel will now prepare for its first Tri Valley Conference west division matchup when the Panthers welcome St. Louis HS to the NCC campus in Saginaw Township next Friday night for a 7 pm kickoff in the home opener at Boyd Field.
Video of Nouvel QB Jack Kujawa hitting WR Harry Dwan with a 16 yard passing TD: