In Play with Tom Markowski

U-D whips Brother Rice, 34-0, wins first Central Division game since 2006

Football   | Tom Markowski

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Berkley – Scott Nelson was seven-years-old the last time U-D Jesuit won a Catholic League Central Division game.

Nelson, 16, is just a junior so perhaps U-D can claim another division victory before he graduates.

Nelson ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more at the Cubs defeated Birmingham Brother Rice 34-0 on Saturday at Hurley Field in Berkley.

U-D (5-3) needs to defeat Redford Thurston on Friday to qualify for the state playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Brother Rice is limping through the program’s worst season and sits 1-7 with one game remaining.

“It was big,” Nelson said. “We can’t do much about the past. We talked about making the playoffs all season. This is big for the alumni.”

It’s a significant victory for everyone involved with the program. In 2006 U-D defeated Dearborn Divine Child, now a member of the Catholic League AA Division, 35-13. Since then the Cubs lost 39 consecutive games to teams from the Central Division.

It’s been difficult for U-D fans and especially for coach Oscar Olejniczak. He was on the staff in ’05 when U-D beat Warren De La Salle, the last current Central Division member U-D defeated, 35-28. He and his staff have had to endure much ridicule that despite some success the Cubs couldn’t compete against division rivals like Brother Rice, Detroit Catholic Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and De La Salle.

In 2013 U-D qualified for the playoffs, won two Division 2 playoff games before losing to Brother Rice, 41-14.

Earlier this season U-D and C.C. were tied 7-7 at halftime before C.C. won, 21-7.

“When I took over, we needed to be a program,” Olejniczak said. “That includes the students, the players and alumni.

“Next week is a one-game knockout. We won’t get in at 5-4. With a program like this, after a victory like this, there won’t be a letdown. We’ve been looking for the playoffs since before the season.”

Should U-D defeat Thurston the Cubs would compete in Division 2.

A great win, yes, but both teams were sloppy as each committed five turnovers.

Neither team showed much offensively in the first half until Nelson got loose on a couple of big plays.

Nelson’s 20-yard punt return gave his team possession on Brother Rice’s 45. His 40-yard run gave the Cubs a first-and-goal at the five-yard line and two plays later Nelson threw a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Landon Counsman and U-D led 6-0 with 9:49 left in the half.

After Brother Rice went three-and-out for the third time, U-D took over on its 19 and three plays later Victor Hill raced 68 yards on a reverse for a touchdown and the Cubs led 13-0 with 6:38 left.

Brother Rice gained two first down in the half.

Any thought of a comeback was doused when the Warriors committed three turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half.

U-D scored its three second-half touchdowns in the third quarter. Nelson three a 15-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Rice and Nelson scored on runs of 33 and seven yards.

Nelson could well be the key to any more success the Cubs enjoy.

He started the first two games at quarterback then moved to receiver. He’s always been the starting safety. This week Olejniczak went back to Nelson at quarterback and it proved to be a good decision.

Nelson rushed 11 times for 135 of his team’s 297 yards and was 3-of-6 passing for 25 yards.

Brother Rice was held to 140 yards, 40 rushing.