Novi running back Logan Ellison lowers his shoulder to the Plymouth defense during Novi’s 48-45 win over Plymouth Sept. 29 at Novi High School.

Novi running back Logan Ellison lowers his shoulder to the Plymouth defense during Novi’s 48-45 win over Plymouth Sept. 29 at Novi High School.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Game-winning touchdown keeps streak alive as Novi escapes 48-45 vs. Plymouth

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Novi Note | Published October 3, 2023


NOVI — The way both the Novi and Plymouth offenses have played this season, fans were expecting a scoring barrage between the two Kensington Lakes Activities Association West teams, and it was as advertised when the teams faced off Sept. 29 at Novi High School.

So when it became decision time for Novi head coach Jim Sparks with five seconds left at the Plymouth 7-yard line as Novi (5-1) trailed Plymouth (2-4) 45-42, he chose to go for the win instead of the tie.

“If we make that field goal and it goes to overtime, and we hadn’t been able to stop them very well, I’d have second-guessed myself on that one,” Sparks said. “I figured if we were going to go down, we were going to go down swinging.”

Sparks put the game in the hands of his senior quarterback, Caleb Walker, who’s been sensational this season for the Wildcats, and he delivered as he connected with senior Thad Lawler for the game-winning touchdown.

Plymouth had taken the lead late on a field goal after Novi fumbled a kickoff return following a Plymouth score, so with just over three minutes left in the matchup, Novi’s offense was staring down a 71-yard drive.

Converting a pair of fourth downs, including a pass interference call on Plymouth to set up shop for Novi at the 7-yard line, Novi’s offensive unit overcame all obstacles to earn the victory.

Adversity has been nothing new for Novi this season after suffering a loss in its season opener and trailing in most of its matchups this season, but senior lineman Nathan Ponos said that trust has played a key role in the team’s ability to overcome obstacles.

“The improvement has been trusting the guy next to us to do their job,” Ponos said. “I think that the trust carried through the whole team, that no matter who’s in or what position, we trust that they will do their job.”

Walker threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns on 48 passing attempts, connecting with senior wideout Boden Fernsler six times for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Novi running back Logan Ellison rushed 10 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns while also hauling in a touchdown grab. Plymouth’s star senior running back, Jaxon McCaig, rushed for 324 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.

Walker and Fernsler seemed to be on the same page all night, and from how they play on the field, their long-standing friendship shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

“We’ve been playing in the backyard together for a long time and have been friends since first playing hoops together in fifth grade,” Fernsler said. “We’ve been on the same team in all three sports (football, basketball and baseball) for a long time now, so I think that’s where the chemistry comes from.”

Currently tied for first with Northville in the KLAA West at 5-0 in conference play, Novi will travel Oct. 6 to take on Howell before ending conference play Oct. 13 when it hosts Northville.

It’s coming down to the wire for the Wildcats, but with each week and each win, they’re one step closer to completing their objective.

“We have goals we set for ourselves, and each and every week they’re coming clearer and clearer into focus,” Sparks said.