UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - The Saginaw Valley State University football team improved its record to 3-0 on the season with a 28-20 victory over Northwood University in the 37th Annual Axe Bowl in front of 7,726 fans.
The Timberwolves took an early 6-0 lead after Ryan Whittum intercepted and returned a Jonathon Jennings (Columbus, Ohio/Westervilles South) pass 46-yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals would block the extra point attempt to make the score 6-0. SVSU would answer right back when Jennings would connect with Nick Gallina (Troy, Mich./Troy HS) on a 22-yard touchdown pass to give SVSU the 7-6 advantage. Jennings would earn "Meijer Player of the Game" honors finishing the night 19-for-29, for 235 yards passing, 89 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.
The Cardinals would extend their lead late in the second quarter to 14-6 when Jennings hit a diving Gallina, who was able to haul in the ball with an acrobatic catch for a 34-yard touchdown. Gallina would end the night leading Saginaw Valley with five catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Northwood would tie the game at 14 on the opening kick-off of the second half when Carlos Love returned a Tim Hogue fumble 25 yards for a score.
Saginaw Valley rebounded quickly when Jennings connected with David Pardun (Troy, Mich./Troy HS) on a 2-yard touchdown pass to put the Cards back on-top, 21-14. The catch and touchdown were Pardun's first collegiate reception and score.
The Timberwolves would answer with back-to-back 36 and 30-yard field goals by Alex Faust, making the score 21-20 SVSU.
Jennings would extend the Cardinals lead to 28-20 when he broke loose on a 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one with 4:50 left in the game.
The Cardinal defense came up clutch in the final minute of the contest stopping the Timberwolves on fourth-and-one on the 8-yard line, earning the Cardinals the Axe Bowl Trophy.
The defense was lead by Jeff Heath (Lake Orion, Mich.) who ended the night with 12 tackles and a sack. Grant Caserta (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa HS) would chip in nine stops and a quarterback sack, while Brian Johnson (Muskegon, Mich./Muskegon Catholic Central HS) added eight stops and a fumble recovery.
With the victory the Cardinals improve to 3-0 overall on the season and 3-0 in the GLIAC, while Northwood falls to 1-3 overall on the season and 0-3 in the GLIAC. Saginaw Valley will be back in action next Saturday (Oct. 1) when they host Hillsdale College for the annual homecoming game.