On a night styles clashed, smash-mouth football reigned supreme over an aerial attack.
Homer piled up 355 rushing yards on 52 carries and survived a barrage of big passing plays, holding off host Skyview for a 24-13 Northern Lights Conference victory Friday night.
Dyllan Day had two rushing touchdowns and Travis Smith added another for the Mariners, who let a 16-point lead slip to three before improving to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference heading into a Week 7 showdown with Kenai Central.
Skyview drops to 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the NLC.
"I'm excited for these boys, but I want them to jell," Homer coach Camron Wyatt said. "We only have so many games left. We have to jell soon."
Homer had everything working in the first half, but let Skyview back into the game over the final 24 minutes.
Day scored in the first quarter and Smith took a handoff 69 yards in the second to give the Mariners a 16-0 lead at the break.
The Skyview came to life.
Albert White, who caught six passes for 161 yards after missing the previous two games with a groin injury, cut the lead to 16-6 with 2:01 to play in the third. The senior took a pass next to his own sideline, sidestepped a Homer defender and raced 73 yards for his only score of the game.
Less than three minutes into the fourth, running back Jasen Suonvieri took a handoff up the middle and cut between a swarm of Homer defenders to score from 35 yards out and trim the lead to 16-13.
Homer then chewed four minutes off the clock but had to punt the ball back to Skyview, pinning the Panthers on their own 8-yard line.
Skyview quarterback Jordan Jones' final completion of the night gave his squad breathing room as the senior connected with White for a 33-yard gain.
On the next play, however, Homer's Robin Glosser intercepted a pass on the right side.
The Mariners sealed the game when Day scored from 13 yards out at the 1:01 mark. Not that they impressed themselves by nearly squandering the game.
"They came out pumped in the second half and we were way too comfortable with our lead," said Day, who carried the ball 20 times for 184 yards. "We were all waiting to settle in, but it didn't happen for a while and they started playing well."
Homer dominated possession, running 56 plays to Skyview's 35.
The Mariners took to the air just four times, completing two passes for 8 yards. Skyview's Jones, meanwhile, threw it 19 times for 208 yards - 188 in the second half.
Yet the senior was intercepted twice and also had a touchdown called back in the first half because of a penalty.
Wyatt turned to Day, Smith, Tayler Downes and Hoss Frank, who had 20 carries for 79 yards. The Homer coach said his team must believe in its run-first system and execute at all times - not just in spurts.
"It's about confidence, it's about believing in each other - then executing," Wyatt said. "You can see great moments, but we have to get to that consistency."
The victory sets up a huge game next week between Homer and Kenai Central, which defeated Houston 38-3 on Saturday to improve to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the NLC.
The Week 7 contest will go a long way toward determining the NLC's No. 2 seed for the medium-schools playoffs, a position coveted by both the Mariners and Kardinals.
The NLC No. 2 opens the postseason against the Southeast Conference champion, while the No. 3 seed faces the NLC No. 1, which currently is undefeated Soldotna, winners of 17 straight.
SoHi beat Homer 26-22 in Week 5, while the Stars and Kards have yet to square off. Homer smoked current Southeast leader Thunder Mountain 84-20 in Week 2.
"We're just going to have to play really focused or it's not going to be a very fun game for us," Day said of the Kenai Central contest, which is on Homer's homecoming. "We can beat anybody if we play our game."
Wyatt said following Friday's game the Mariners haven't beat the Kards in more than 20 years.
This could be their best chance.
"I'm excited for the boys because I know their potential is exponential," Wyatt said, crediting his coaching staff. "Give some loving to the assistants. We can't do what we're doing without them."
Mariners 24, Panthers 13
Homer 8 8 0 8 -24
Skyview 0 0 6 7 -13
Hom - Day 50 run (Frank pass from Glosser), 4:06.
Hom - Smith 69 run (Downes run), 3:09.
Sky - White 73 pass from Jones (pass failed), 2:01.
Sky - Suonvieri 35 run (Jones kick), 9:43.
Hom - Day 13 run (Glosser run), 1:01.
First downs 14 9
Rushes-yards 52-355 16-88
Passing yards 8 208
Passing 2-4-1 10-19-2
Punts-avg 1-45.0 3-37.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-50 5-50
Rushing - Hom: Day 20-184, Downes 7-28, Frank 20-79, Smith 2-70, Glosser 3-4. Sky: Suonvieri 11-91, Jones 4-(-8), Reynolds 1-5.
Passing - Hom: Glosser 2-4-1-8. Sky: Jones 10-19-2-208.
Receiving - Hom: Day 1-5, Downes 1-3. Sky: Reynolds 2-29, Pietro 2-18, White 6-161.