The Nouvel Catholic Central (5-3) varsity football team rolled to its third consecutive win with a decisive 49-7 Tri Valley Conference West victory over visiting Pinconning high school (2-6) at Boyd Field on the NCC campus in Saginaw Township tonight.
With five wins this year, NCC must finish out the season with a victory in a TVC East crossover matchup at home against Birch Run next week in order to guarantee a spot in the 2018 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 8 playoffs, however, as a class D school, the Panthers would still likely qualify for the post-season with just 5 wins due to earning extra playoff points after having 'played up' against five class C schools (St. Charles, Hemlock, Ithaca, St. Louis, and Valley Lutheran) and two class B (Pinconning and Birch Run) schools on its schedule this season.
Nouvel opened up the scoring after senior QB Michael Ehlman completed a 65 yard pass to senior wideout Jonah Wright down to the Pinconning 8-yard line, which set up a 5-yard rushing touchdown by NCC senior RB Josh Kuligowski, but the 2-point try failed, giving the Panthers an early 6-0 lead with 8:43 left in the opening quarter, before Ehlman hit NCC senior wideout Sam Buckingham for a 4 yard passing TD on Nouvel's next drive, however, the 2-point try would again fail, as the Panthers extended its lead to 12-0 with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
After early success on offense, Kuligowski went to work on the defensive side of the ball, intercepting Pinconning senior QB Mason Vieau on the Spartan's next drive, returning the ball down to the Spartan 24-yard line, where Kuligowski broke free for a 24 yard touchdown scamper on the very next play, while Nouvel sophomore RB Ashton Wrght ran in the 2-point try for a 20-0 NCC lead with 7:57 remaining in the second quarter.
Wright (the younger brother of Jonah) recovered the ensuing onside kick by NCC sophomore kicker Brady Alverson, giving the Panthers the ball on the Spartan 38-yard line, before Kuligowski broke free for a 37-yard run down to the Spartan 1-yard line, which led to a 1 yard rushing TD by the younger Wright, while Kuligowski returned the favor, carrying in the 2-point conversion for a 28-0 Nouvel lead with 7:43 left in the first half.
The Panther defense stepped up big on the next drive when NCC sophomore linebacker Josh Siler scooped up a Pinconning fumble at the Spartan 35-yard line and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, but the 2-point attempt failed, as NCC pulled ahead 34-0 with 5:57 to play in the half.
On Pinconning's next drive, it was Buckingham's turn to shine on defense, as he intercepted a pass by Vieau near mid-field and returned it 49 yards for another NCC defensive touchdown, as Kuligowski carried in the 2-point conversion with 5:36 left to play in the second quarter, giving the Panthers an impressive 42-0 lead heading into halftime.
Kuligowski capped an impressive ball-control drive with a 7-yard rushing TD on the Panthers first possession of the third quarter, while Alverson split the uprights for a 49-0 Panther lead with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
Pinconning would finally get on the board after Spartan junior Blake Schumann returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards down to the Nouvel 15, setting up a 15-yard passing touchdown from Vieau to Spartans senior WR Matthew Perrou, while Pinconning senior place kicker Derren LeBean nailed the extra point to cut the Nouvel lead to 49-7 with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
The Spartans were led by Vieau, who completed 7 of 23 passes for 74 yards, adding 1-passing TD to Perrou, along with fielding 3 punts, which he returned for 97 total yards, followed by senior RB Hunter McGillen, who had 72 total yards of offense, carrying the ball 4 times for 24 rushing yards to lead the Pinconning rushing attack, while adding another 4 catches for 48 receiving yards through the air.
Perrou had the 1 catch, a 15 yard TD reception, followed by junior John Norman, who had 1 catch for 8 yards, and Schaumann, who finished with 1 catch for 3 yards, adding 2 kickoff returns for 65 total yards.
McGillen led the Spartan defense with 5 ½ tackles, including 5 solo tackles, followed by senior Nolan Briggs and junior Tristan Dyczewicz, who each finished with 3 ½ tackles apiece respectively.
Kuligowski paced the Nouvel offense, carrying the ball 12 times for 134 rushing yards, including 3 rushing TD's, while adding 1 reception for 9 yards and 1 interception on defense, followed by Ehlman, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 103 yards, including 1 passing TD, while adding 8 carries for 44 rushing yards on the ground.
Ashton Wright finished with 13 carries for 58 rushing yards, including 1 rushing TD, while older brother Jonah Wright hauled in 1 reception for 65 yards, followed by NCC junior Zaiden Mitchell, who had 2 catches for 25 receiving yards, and Buckingham, who had the 1 catch for a 4-yard TD reception, adding an interception return for a touchdown on defense as well, followed by Siler, who would round out the Nouvel scoring with his fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown.
Nouvel sophomore Darron Chinery led the Panther defense with 3 ½ tackles, including 3 solo tackles, followed by Jonah Wright and senior Kieran Schultz, who each finished with 2 ½ tackles apiece respectively.
Pinconning will finish the season at home with a visit from Whittemore-Prescott at 7 pm at the Pinconning HS football field next week, while the Nouvel Panthers will host the Birch Run Panthers in a TVC crossover matchup at 7 pm right back here on the NCC campus at 7 pm next week.
The Nouvel CC marching band playing prior to kickoff against the Pinconning HS Spartans Friday Oct 12, 2018 in Saginaw Twp: