Dyllan Day scored on a 10-yard rush on the first play of double overtime, Robin Glosser intercepted a pass in the end zone on the ensuing possession and the host Homer football team defeated Kenai Central 21-14 in a wild Northern Lights Conference game on homecoming Saturday.
It's the Mariners' first win over the Kardinals since 1992, according to Homer coach Camron Wyatt.
"It means so much to the program," Wyatt said. "We stepped toe-to-toe with one of the best organizations in the state as far as football goes."
In front of what Wyatt said was a crowd of about 800 fans, the Mariners improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the NLC while surviving the first overtime game this season involving central Kenai Peninsula squads. Kenai Central drops to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the NLC.
Both sides had numerous chances to win.
Kenai Central led 14-8 with less than five minutes to play and had Homer facing fourth down in its own territory.
That's when Glosser hit 6-foot-7 tight end Devon Kennelty over the middle for a 45-yard gain to the Kards' 7-yard line. On the next play, Day hauled in a Glosser pass to even the score at 14.
Instead of kicking the extra point, Wyatt opted to go for a two-point conversion. The coach said he's got a reliable kicker in Glosser, but sloppy field conditions made him nervous about kicking.
The conversion failed on a Glosser run up the gut, leaving the score deadlocked.
"It's been raining so much, we haven't been consistent with kicking," Wyatt said. "We've had better luck going up the middle."
Kenai Central couldn't score on its next possession, giving Homer the ball back with about two minutes to play.
The Mariners, content to play for overtime, rushed the ball with no success on the next three plays deep in their own territory. Kenai Central then called timeout inside the 20-second mark, forcing Homer to snap the ball on fourth down.
Rather than punt, the Mariners threw a deep pass. It was intercepted by Kenai Central's AJ Hull, who returned it for a touchdown with eight seconds remaining.
However, the return was negated because of a blocking penalty. Despite the call, the Kards got the ball inside the Mariners' 15.
Kenai Central coach John Marquez then trotted out his kicker, TJ Wagoner, whose game-winning field goal was blocked from about 30 yards out.
In the first overtime, Homer had the ball first but turned it over when Hull made another interception, this one in the end zone.
Wagoner had another chance to win it after the Kards moved the ball to the Mariners' 6, but the senior's kick fell shy of the crossbar.
Given new life, Homer used Day's 10-yard run to take the lead in double overtime. And this time, after consecutive dead-ball penalties, Wyatt chose to kick. Glosser drilled the 30-yard extra point to make it 21-14.
Glosser then intercepted a Hull pass to end the game.
Marquez said the game-ending interception came on a miscommunication between Hull and wide receiver Tory Fitzpatrick. It was a read pass, the coach said, but Fitzpatrick ran a slant route while Hull threw a fade.
"It was a great game and either team would have been devastated to lose," Marquez said. "It just happened to be us."
Although the Kards had two kicks to win the game, Marquez said the result didn't boil down to the foot of one player.
Kenai Central had two touchdowns negated by penalties, Marquez said, and didn't execute late in the game when it could have sealed it with touchdowns.
"TJ Wagoner is great kid, does a great job," Marquez said. "He shouldn't hold this loss on his shoulders - not even close. He gives us everything he has every week.
"We should have scored offensively. That's the bottom line. It shouldn't have come down to that. We should have scored a touchdown, but we couldn't punch it in."
Homer fans stormed the field following the game, preventing the teams from shaking hands. Wyatt said it wasn't a show of disrespect, but rather a symbol of what the victory meant for Homer.
"It was simply out of joy, celebrating with their school, their families," Wyatt said. "I hope Kenai understands that. It's not out of disrespect, just more energy that anybody can control."
The Kards must regroup quickly.
They host SoHi next week in a game that will determine playoff seeding - and the conference champion. If SoHi wins, the Stars are the outright champs.
A Kenai Central win would create a three-way tie between the Kards, Mariners and Stars, in which case a tiebreaker would be needed to determine playoff seeds.
Marquez was proud of his team's effort.
"Our defense played phenomenal. Most people didn't think we could do that," Marquez said, adding the loss provides added incentive to beat SoHi. "We've got them at our place, on our field, and it's still a championship game. We honestly believe we can beat them."
Mariners 21, Kardinals 14 2OT
Kenai 0 7 7 0 0 0 —14
Homer 0 0 8 6 0 7 —21
Ken — Hansen 25 pass from Hull (Wagoner kick), 0:56.
Ken — Hull 57 run (Wagoner kick), 11:40.
Hom — Day 3 run (Glosser run), 8:03.
Hom — Day 7 pass from Glosser (run failed), 3:55.
Hom — Day 10 run (Glosser kick).
First downs 11 8
Rushes-yards 37-134 36-175
Passing yards 94 92
Passing 6-16-2 4-12-2
Punts-avg 5-36.2 5-34.2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-65 8-69
Rushing — Ken: Hull 25-86, G. Mendenhall 4-17, M. Mendenhall 1-5, Hansen 7-26. Hom: Day 11-85, Frank 10-38, Glosser 5-38, Downes 9-19, Smith 1-0.
Passing — Ken: Hull 6-16-2-94. Hom: Glosser 4-12-2-92.
Receiving — Ken: Fitzpatrick 2-42, Nason 2-29, Hansen 2-23. Hom: Kennelty 1-45, Frank 1-39, Day 1-8, Downes 1-0.