UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - The SVSU Cardinal football team welcomed Northwood University to Wickes Stadium for a homecoming matchup and 39th annual Axe Bowl showdown, as well as to find out what school would lay claim to the coveted Axe Bowl Trophy. The Cardinals used a strong rushing attack and a couple key turnovers to retain possession of the Trophy with a 44-28 win over the Timberwolves.
It was SVSU's third-consecutive win over Northwood and fifth out of the last six matchups between the schools.
Northwood capitalized on an early SVSU interception to grab a 7-0 lead at the 13:36 mark in the first quarter.
A 25 yard touchdown run by Jeff Janis evened the score at 7-7 just 2:39 later, capping-off an eight play, 75 yard drive for SVSU.
A Glenn Winston TD run for Northwood would give the Timberwolves a 14-7 advantage.
SVSU cut into that lead when Scott Stanford nailed a 29 yard field goal, making the score 14-10 with just 1:37 left in the game's opening quarter.
The T-Wolves took their next drive 11 plays and 66 yards down the field and increaded their lead to 21-10 on a 25 yard touchdown pass with 13:26 left in the first half.
From that point, Saginaw Valley would score 34 unanswered points to take a 44-21 lead.
Jonathon Jennings hit Janis on a 26 yard strike to cut the deficit to 21-17 and Stanford's second field goal of the night, a career-high 51 yarder, would make the score 21-20 with 7:01 remaining in the opening half.
The Cardinals then used a Norman Shuford 39 yard touchdown run to grab a 27-21 lead 3:47 before the half.
Stanford connected on his third field goal of the night at the 9:41 mark in the third, this one from 37 yards out, making the score 30-21.
Jennings would find tight end Andrew Dillon at the 4:46 marker in the third on a 24 yard TD pass hook-up to extend the lead to 37-21.
A Mark Mays one yard touchdown rush with two minutes left in the third ended the scoring for SVSU on the night, and the score stood at 44-21 in favor of the Cardinals.
The Timberwolves added another score on a touchdown run with six minutes left to cut the lead to 44-28, but SVSU would run the remainder of the time off the clock to close-out for the victory.
Saginaw Valley rolled-up 591 yards of total offense, including a season-high 356 on the ground. It's the first time the Cardinals have had over 300 yards on the ground since their 2009 regular season finale against Ferris State, when SVSU had 321.
SVSU also held the upper-hand in terms of time-of-possession with 34:25 compared to Northwood with 25:35.
Shuford was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" after rushing for a career-high 168 yards and a touchdown. Mays had a career day running as well, totaling 121 yards with a score of his own.
Jennings finished the game 18-of-24 passing for 235 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Janis had a game-high six catches for 89 yards and a TD, as well as the 25 yard rushing touchdown, while Dillon had three grabs for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Stanford was 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts and had seven touchbacks on nine kickoff opportunities.
Saginaw Valley improves to 5-1 overall with a 5-0 record atop the GLIAC North Division after the victory. Northwood is now 2-4 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Cardinals travel to Wayne State University Saturday (Oct. 19) in another GLIAC matchup. Kickoff is set for noon in Detroit. Last year, the Cardinals posted a 24-7 home victory over the Warriors on national television.