Salem had “Moore” than enough to hang with once-beaten Novi during Friday night’s homecoming game — at least for the first 24 minutes.
Leading 10-7 at the half, the Rocks succumbed to the Wildcats’ up-tempo, pedal-to-the-metal offense in the second half when the visitors pulled away for a 35-17 victory.
The result left Salem with an 0-5 mark while Novi improved to 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the KLAA West Division, good enough for a first-place tie with Baseline rival Northville.
Moore, Moore, Moore
Junior Aiden Moore was a never-leave-the-field beast for Salem, gaining 71 first-half yards while contributing to several stops from his defensive back position.
The Rocks stunned Novi on the opening kick-off, which Azarius Hayes secured at the 10-yard line, crossed the field and motored up the sideline for a 90-yard return TD.
Novi countered with a 3-yard TD run by Logan Ellison (5 carries, 53 yards and two TDs through the first three quarters), but Salem owned a 10-7 halftime advantage thanks to a 24-yard field goal by No. 40, whose name was not on the Rocks’ roster.
Big fourth-down stop
Salem’s defensive line came up huge with 2:09 left in the first half when they stonewalled the Wildcats on a fourth-and-1 play near midfield.
Novi Head Coach Jim Sparks should bottle and sell whatever he message he delivered to his team during halftime.
The Wildcats scored on their first three second-half drives on a 40-yard highlight reel by Ellison and touchdown receptions from smooth-as-silk quarterback Caleb Walker to Andrew Kummer (44 yards) and Fernsler (10 yards).
With the exception of Hayes’ kickoff return, Fernsler registered the most spectacular individual effort of the night when he recorded a David Tyree-like 33-yard reception that required him to secure the ball against his helmet with one hand.
End zone pick
Salem’s Terrance Smith grabbed a momentum-changing interception in the end zone, while Novi’s defense carded two turnovers: a fumble recovery by Joshua Waack and an interception by Fernsler, who did everything except drive the bus home after the game.
The entire night was anything but routine. The game started approximately 30 minutes late as it followed the Canton-vs.-Plymouth game, which kicked off at 4:30 p.m.
That game was originally set for 6:30 p.m. on the P-CEP campus’s west turf field, which has been closed since an Aug. 24 rainstorm.
Friday night was also Salem’s homecoming, forcing halftime to be longer than usual due to the festivities.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.