PALMER - Call it an unwritten rule.
Go for a tie on the road, and the win at home.
Trailing by a point in the final minutes of regulation on its home turf, Palmer went for the win. But Soldotna linebacker Garrett Bosick came up with the game-saving play to help the Soldotna Stars hold on to a 29-28 nonconference victory over the Palmer Moose at Machetanz Field in Palmer.
With Soldotna leading 29-22, Palmer fullback Luke Heun busted through the middle on fourth down for a 37-yard touchdown run. The Heun score brought the Moose within one. Palmer sent out the special teams for the point after, but following a time out, the Moose offense returned to the field.
"We weren't going for the tie tonight, we were going for the win," Palmer head coach Rod Christiansen said. "You go for the win in the nonconference game."
Palmer opted to keep the ball in the hands of Jackson Buresh, its 6-foot-2, first-team all-state quarterback who had already scored twice in the game. Bosick led a Soldotna charge, and the Stars were able to pull down the PHS signal caller before he reached the end zone.
"We wanted to put the ball in their hands," Christiansen said of the Moose offense. "We had some of our best drives when we were doing that."
Christiansen's proof was the Heun touchdown, a score that came with the Moose facing fourth-and-two.
"We were going no huddle, going up there, really taking it to them before they were ready," Christiansen said. "We were ready to go and they weren't."
Heun's score was one of three second-half Palmer touchdowns that helped the Moose rally from an early deficit. Soldotna capitalized on a pair of Palmer special teams mistakes in the first half, and scored twice during a two-minute span in the second quarter.
Soldotna notched its first touchdown of the game after blocking a Palmer punt. The blocked punt led to Soldotna starting its first offensive series in PHS territory. Seven plays later, Tanner Fowler scored from 3 yards out to give the Stars the early lead.
Buresh tied the game with the first of his two touchdown runs with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. But SoHi answered with two scores in the second.
Austin Tennis scored on a 5-yard run late in the first half. Less than two minutes later, Colton Young returned a Palmer punt 51 yards for a score.
"You can really point at those two plays," Christiansen said.
Jared Duncan added a 1-yard score in the fourth quarter for the Stars, and helped Soldotna preserve the win with its rushing attack. Duncan rushed for a game-high 97 yards on 16 carries. Tennis added 78 yards on 15 tries. Reid Schelzenbach chipped in 52.
"I don't know how many yards on the ground we gave up, but it was a pile," Christiansen said. "Soldotna got them when they needed them."
Soldotna 29, Palmer 28
Soldotna - T. Fowler 3 run (kick good) 6:36.
Palmer - Buresh 3 run (Wisner kick) 0:34.
Soldotna - Tennis 5 run (kick good) 4:30.
Soldotna - Young 51 punt return (kick good) 3:19.
Palmer - Buresh 1 run (Wisner kick) 4:20.
Palmer - Nisbett 10 run (Buresh run) 0:00.
Soldotna - Duncan 1 run (Tennis run) 6:15.
Palmer - Heun 37 run (run failed) 2:04.
RUSHING - Soldotna: Duncan 16-97, Tennis 15-78, Schelzenbach 8-52, T.
Fowler 3-17, N. Fowler 2-(-4); Palmer: Ahrens 14-66, Nisbett 9-37, Buresh
8-29, Heun 6-56, King 4-16, Chadwick 1-8,
PASSING - Soldotna: N. Folwer 1-3-1-9; Palmer:
RECEIVING - Soldotna: Tennis 1-9; Palmer: Lee 3-38, Straight 3-17, Ahrens