The Kenai Central Kardinals battered their way to a 14-8 win over conference rival Skyview on Saturday afternoon at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, but the mood was less than joyous after the game, even for the victors.
“We played decent in the second half, but it didn’t matter,” Kenai head coach John Marquez said. “We took time off the clock and drove the ball down field, but we need to score touchdowns and we didn’t do that.”
Skyview now drops to an 0-4 Northern Lights conference record, and 1-6 overall, while Kenai is 2-2 in the conference and 2-5 overall.
The Kards scored on two touchdown runs of 2 and 14 yards from Grayden Mendenhall in the first half, then rattled off a long drive down the field in the third quarter that produced 20 plays and ate up more than 10 minutes of the clock, but resulted in no points.
“Mentally, this was our worst game all year, even though we won,” Marquez said. “Those are the things we need to fix for next week. It’s a great win for our kids, they deserved it, they worked hard all week, but we need to fix the mental mistakes, because you can’t have that against SoHi.”
Although Kenai came up empty on Skyview’s 2-yard line, they managed to score with their defense, grabbing a safety on the very next play.
“We needed to get that ball back, we really did,” Skyview coach Eric Pomerleau said. “In the second half we did a better job, but we just need to execute when we have the opportunity.”
Even with the loss, Pomerleau was appreciative of the efforts from the Skyview players, namely junior running back Brandon Rice, who was a thorn in Kenai’s side all day. Rice racked up 114 rushing yards on 17 carries.
“He did a great job, he got his hands on the ball, and they knew he was coming and he still was able to make some plays,” Pomerleau said.
Skyview managed to find some needed momentum in the fourth quarter, grinding its way down to Kenai’s 2-yard line and getting the score with a run from fill-in quarterback Kyle Zimmerman, who completed 3 of 5 passing attempts for 53 passing yards.
The resulting two-point-conversion attempt failed, which set up a crucial onside kick for the Panthers. Kenai’s Luke Short recovered and the Kards ran the clock out to win the game.
“That could’ve turned the game, and if they recovered that, it could be a different score,” Kenai running back Jason Daniels said. “I felt better about our win against Houston last week than this one. Honestly, as a team, sometimes we turn on each other and play the blame game, and our coach has been telling us to stick with each other but we just played hard and saved the game.”
Daniels had a successful outing, rushing 128 yards on 21 carries.
“These guys are resilient, we’ll jump back and get that done,” Marquez said. “Every time we adjust and fix something, they do it, and that’s the type of kids they are. “They were really stout, the O-line got tired this week, we had two of our inside guys going both ways and that hurt us. We need to find another guy to step up and allow them to get rest for next week.”
Skyview hosts Kodiak next Saturday at 3 p.m., and Soldotna will travel to Kenai on Saturday in a highly anticipated match set for 2 p.m.
“Soldotna’s the team to beat, and we’re going up against the best, so we’re bringing everything,” Marquez said.
Kardinals 14, Panthers 8
Kenai 6 6 2 0 —14
Skyview 0 0 0 8 —8
Ken — Mendenhall 2 run (kick failed), 9:51
Ken — Mendenhall 14 run (kick blocked), 2:20
Ken — Safety, 1:34
Sky — Safety, 6:57
Sky — Zimmerman 2 run (2-pt failed), 2:28
First downs 27 17
Rushes-yards 46-240 28-140
Passing yards 54 65
Comp-att-int 8-14-1 7-14-1
Punts-yards 3-31 2-94
Fumbles 1 1
Rushing — Kenai: Daniels 21-128, Mendenhall 21-100, Logan 4-12. Skyview: Rice 17-114, Zimmerman 5-16, West 2-6, Jones 3-3, Edwards 1-1.
Passing — Kenai: Baker 8-14-1—54. Skyview: Jones 4-9-0—12, Zimmerman 3-5-1—53.
Receiving — Kenai: O’Neal 2-22, Mendenhall 2-17, Young 1-11, Daniels 3-4. Skyview: West 2-58, Cunningham 2-14, Collier 3-4.