November 27, 2019 | Story by: Bill Kahn | Photos by: Timothy Arrick for the Livingston Daily
This article originally appeared here.
BRIGHTON — They’re never going to hear the end of it.
Not that they’re complaining, considering “it” was the biggest touchdown in the history of Livingston County football.
Nick Nemecek’s 16-yard catch of a pass from Colby Newburg with 50.1 seconds left gave Brighton a 22-19 victory over Belleville Saturday at Howell and a berth in the state Division 1 championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Davison at Ford Field.
Brighton’s version of “The Catch” will become more legendary as the years pass, particularly if the Bulldogs complete their mission of winning the county’s first state football championship. Nemecek’s catch made Brighton the first county team to play in a state title game since playoffs were established in 1975.
In the 48 hours following their memorable play, Nemecek and Newburg have been asked about it by nearly everyone who recognizes them at school or around town.
“Especially at school,” Newburg said. “A ton of kids were talking about it, just that play. I actually went to Firehouse Subs and like four people came up to me and asked me about that play, told me congratulations and all that.”
Newburg has seen the play from different angles as people show it to him from cell phone footage they took from the stands.
“During class, I thought one of the teachers was going to show it, because he wouldn’t stop talking about it,” he said. “He didn’t end up showing it.
“I’ve watched it a couple times, mostly from angles where you could see our fans erupt when he catches it.”
For Nemecek, who said Monday afternoon that he had watched the play at least 10 times, it’s been a surreal experience.
“It’s been pretty hectic,” said Nemecek, a junior running back who played receiver last season. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. I still can’t believe it happened.”
It’s a play that could have gone sideways numerous times before the ball wound up safely secured in Nemecek’s hands.
It began with Nemecek coming in motion from the right side of the formation on first down from the Belleville 16-yard line. Newburg faked a handoff to Nemecek, then rolled right, only to face pressure from linemen Damon Payne and Hunter Little.
Newburg reversed field and headed to his left, tucking the ball briefly as he thought about running, then quickly bringing it back out and throwing a pass to Nemecek in the end zone. Nemecek was double-covered by Jalen Williams and Deshaun Lee, but won a jump ball to give Brighton a 20-19 lead. Nemecek then ran in a 2-point conversion.
“I was trying to make something happen,” Newburg said. “I was getting pressure. I was going to my right, so I turned around and went left. I saw Nick in the end zone, so I untucked it, threw it off balance and hoped for the best.”
Ironically, it was Williams who caught a 6-yard touchdown pass with 12.1 seconds left to beat Brighton, 40-35, in the 2018 season opener.
Talk about closure.
“It was a perfect ball that was thrown,” Nemecek said. “Everything went our way on that play.”