St. Louis, MI:
Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central senior quarterback Michael Ehlman (who had missed the last three games after having surgery following a car accident) accounted for all five NCC touchdowns (3-passing, and 2-rushing) while vaulting the Panthers back into the win column with a 32-20 Tri Valley Conference West division victory over St. Louis high school, spoiling the Sharks' homecoming at Wheeler Field in St. Louis, MI Friday night.
The win halted a 3-game losing skid for Nouvel, improving to 3-3 in the TVC West standings, however, the Panthers will still need three more wins to guarantee a spot in the 2018 MHSAA Div-8 football post season.
Ehlman hit NCC junior wide receiver Zaiden Mitchell on a skinny post for a 37-yard passing TD, but the Sharks managed to block the extra point try of Nouvel place-kicker Brady Alverson, giving the Panthers an early 6-0 lead at 6:34 of the first quarter.
With the St. Louis offense marching into NCC territory, the Panther defense would come up big on consecutive plays when sophomore linebacker Josh Siler sacked St. Louis QB Cameron Mizer twice, before forcing and recovering a fumble to give Nouvel possession, which eventually set up a 3 yard rushing TD by Ehlman, as senior running back Josh Kuligowski carried in the two point conversion for a 14-0 Nouvel lead with :17.3 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Sharks took the ensuing kickoff down to the Panther 24-yard line, which led to an impressive 17 yard run by Mizer, setting up his own 1-yard TD run, as the two point try failed, cutting the Nouvel lead to 14-6 just 1:36 into the second quarter.
It didn't take Ehlman long to respond, as the lefty gunslinger hit Mitchell with a 71 yard bomb for a touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage, however, another two point conversion attempt failed, as the Panthers stretched its lead to 20-6 with 10:09 left to play in the first half.
Not to be outdone, St. Louis' speedy sophomore Trae Garcia broke free, finding pay dirt with a 54 yard TD scamper, while junior RB Jordan Lowe carried the two point conversion across the goal line, cutting the Panther lead to 20-14 with 9:03 left in the half.
Facing fourth-and-eleven from its own 49-yard line, the Panthers pulled off a gutsy fake-punt, as Alverson feigned a high snap by jumping up and spinning around with his arms flailing in the air, while Mitchell took a direct snap and carried the ball for a first down deep into St. Louis territory, which set up an 8-yard TD pass from Ehlman to NCC junior wideout Sam Buckingham, while another two point try failed, as NCC extended its lead to 26-14 heading into halftime.
St. Louis would strike first in the second half when Mizer found Garcia with a 13 yard passing TD, missing the two point try, while trailing the Panthers by less than a touchdown (26-20) with just over 9-minutes left in the third quarter.
Ehlman showed off his kicking skills as well, pinning the Sharks deep in its own end on the 1-yard line with a perfect pooch-punt, which led to a St. Louis three-and-out, followed by a short Sharks punt, which was fielded by Kuligowski at the St. Louis 25, and returned to the 5-yard line, setting up Ehlman's final 5-yard rushing TD, along with another failed two point conversion try for a 32-20 NCC lead near the end of the third quarter.
Mizer completed 5 of 11 passes for 41 yards through the air, with 1 passing TD, while adding 42 rushing yards on 8 carries, with 1 rushing TD to lead the St. Louis offense, followed by Garcia, who carried the ball 4 times for 63 rushing yards, adding 1 rushing TD, along with 4 receptions for 17 receiving yards and 1 TD reception for the Sharks.
Ehlman finished with 303 all-purpose yards, completing 11 of 17 passes for 202 yards through the air, with 3 TD passes, while adding 101 rushing yards on 18 carries, including 2 rushing TD's to lead the Panther offense, followed by Mitchell who completed 1 pass for 27 yards, rushing for 24 yards on 3 carries, while hauling in 3 catches for 114 receiving yards, including his 2 TD receptions for Nouvel.
Kuligowski carried the ball 12 times for 80 rushing yards, adding the only 2 point conversion for the Panthers, along with 1 reception for 19 yards, while Buckingham led all receivers with 7 receptions for 84 yards and 1 TD reception.
St. Louis falls to 3-3 and will now prepare to host Div-6 powerhouse Ithaca for a 7 pm kickoff Friday at Wheeler Field, while Nouvel CC welcomes Valley Lutheran to Boyd Field for a 7 pm homecoming game Friday night as well.
NCC QB Michael Ehlman crosses the goal line with his fifth TD against St. Louis HS Friday night: