Leading his Northville team to five scoring drives and rushing for three touchdowns himself, Jack Burke was confident directing the Mustangs’ offense all night.
But when Novi was seeking a game-tying touchdown and threw in Burke’s direction, that’s when his heart started beating a little faster.
“I saw the ball coming, and then a big paw came up and knocked the ball down, and it was just tremendous,” said Burke, who plays quarterback and safety. “I think they were throwing in my direction if I remember correctly, and I was ready to break on the ball. But I’m glad it was knocked down. I was pretty close on my man, but I’m glad I didn’t have to make the play. (The ball) was just on the ground.”
Burke didn’t have to make the play because Jordan Grewe did. The 6-foot-1 defensive lineman got his hand in the air and batted away Alec Bageris’ fourth-down pass with 54 seconds left, clinching Northville’s 27-19 win Friday night over archrival Novi for the Baseline Jug.
“I saw the QB drop back for a pass, and I just put my hand up,” Grewe said. “When I felt it hit my hand, I was so happy.”
It was somewhat surprising that Novi even had a chance that late in the game, after starting the fourth quarter down, 24-7.
The Wildcats (6-1, 4-3 KLAA Central) executed a 19-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by Ian Patterson’s 1-yard plunge. Novi then closed to within five points on arguably the most bizarre drive of the season, which started when the Wildcats’ Tyler VanKirk recovered the live ball on the ensuing kickoff at the Northville 15.
After two incomplete passes and penalties for holding and intentional grounding, Novi faced fourth-and-39 from the 44. But Anthony D’Annibale faked a punt and ran the ball around right end, straight into the end zone to make the score 24-19. Novi was going to attempt a two-point conversion, got flagged for illegal procedure and kicked instead. The kick hit the left upright.
“Stuff happens in football,” Burke said. “We just all came together. We didn’t panic, and we just made that big stop at the end.”
The win clinched the KLAA Central Division title for Northville (7-1, 5-0), which will go for the conference crown Friday by hosting Canton.
Click on usatodayhss.com/market/detroit for:
■Our high school roundup featuring Friday night’s football games.
■More photos from Friday’s Berkley-Bloomfield Hills game.
■Coverage of the boys tennis and girls golf state finals.
■The Son of Swami’s Week 8 picks, Mick McCabe’s football rankings and more!
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