Patience paid off big for the Kenai Kardinals Saturday as they hung around Fairbanks just long enough to leave town with a 16-14 nonconference victory over the Lathrop Malemutes.
After Ryann Hansen's 3-yard touchdown plunge with 1:50 left tied the game at 14, Kenai quarterback Cole Chappell found tight end Josh Bennett in the end zone for a two-point conversion that put Kenai ahead for good.
The go-ahead touchdown was set up after Lathrop missed a 28-yard field goal try that would have put the game out of reach. As it was, the kick sailed just wide, and Kenai put together an eight-play, 82-yard drive to set up the winning score.
Kenai then had to withstand a furious comeback attempt by Lathrop, which marched down to the Kenai 12-yard line before a Papapa Nicholas sack ran out the clock on the heavily favored Malemutes. Kenai coach Jim Beeson said his plan coming in was to slow the game down as much as possible and wait for a chance to strike.
"We took 25 seconds on every play," Beeson said. "We were just hoping we would get an opportunity at the end, and we did."
Lathrop, which beat Chugiak 31-12 two weeks ago, looked to be in control of the game early, after the Malemutes racked up touchdowns by Shawn Fletcher and Chuck Quint. But Craig answered with a 5-yard second-quarter touchdown run, and with time running down in the first half, the Kardinals actually had a chance to grab the lead.
Kenai ran five plays inside the Lathrop 10-yard line at the end of the half, but was unable to punch the ball in before the half expired. Beeson said that series left him unhappy with his squad going into the locker room.
"We ran four plays, and three of them we just screwed up," he said.
The Kenai coach must have said something to his squad, because Kenai came out in the second half determined not to let Lathrop win the ballgame. Kenai's defense was just good not to mention lucky enough to keep Lathrop from scoring again in the game. However, it wasn't like the Malemutes didn't have their chances.
In addition to the missed field goal, Lathrop squandered a golden opportunity in the fourth quarter when Lathrop's running back fumbled just before crossing the Kenai goal line. Kenai defensive back T.J. Hancock pounced on the fumble, allowing the Kardinals to stay within striking distance.
"He kinda reached for the end zone, the ball somehow came out and T.J. just recovered it," Beeson said.
The Kenai coach said his team's ability to never give up made the difference against Lathrop.
"It was just a great team effort," he said. "From the kids to the coaches to the people on the sidelines, it was pretty much a great effort on everybody's part."
He said the return of Craig, who missed the first game of the season for violating school rules, gave his team a big lift.
"Having Dakota around made a world of difference," Beeson said.
The junior running back led all rushers with 180 yards on 27 carries.
Beeson also credited his senior quarterback for keeping his cool, particularly on Kenai's two-point conversions.
"I saw a lot of improvement on Cole's part," he said. "He made some great decisions."
Beeson also was quick to give credit to the Malemutes, who fought Kenai right until the end.
"They're skill-position players are very athletic," he said. "They played very hard."
Still, the Kenai coach said he believes the much-larger Fairbanks school may have underestimated the Kardinals, who only suit 29 players on varsity.
"I think they might have kinda been looking past us," he said. "We just hung around and waited to get a break."
With the victory, Kenai moves to 1-1 on the season. Kenai's schedule doesn't get much easier next week, as the Kardinals wrap up their nonconference schedule next Saturday against Colony, which beat Soldotna 41-0 on Saturday.
Kardinals 16, Malemutes 14
Kenai 0 8 0 8 16
Colony 7 7 0 0 14
Lat Fletcher 9 pass from Graziadei (Gaul kick), 8:27
Lat Quint 14 run (Gaul kick), 11:52
Ken Craig 5 run (Bennett pass from Chappell), 7:47
Ken Hansen 3 run (Bennett pass from Chappell), 1:20
First downs 8 14
Rushes-yards 39-251 30-203
Passing yards 41 73
Passing 3-6-0 7-21-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-65 7-60
Rushing Kenai: Craig 27-180, Hansen 7-56, Chappell 5-15. Lathrop: Linenko 11-88, Trinidad 4-41, Quint 5-35, Graziadei 4-26, Cofey 5-7, Fletcher 1-6.
Passing Kenai: Chappell 3-6-0-41. Lathrop: Graziadei 6-20-0-47, Quint 1-1-0-26.
Receiving Kenai: Bennett 3-41. Lathrop: Fletcher 4-57, Cofey 1-16, Varner 1-8, Trinidad 1-(-8).
Colony 41, Soldotna 0
Colony used 35 first-half points to quickly put away the visiting Soldotna Stars Friday night in Palmer.
Colony's Shawn Olivera led the Knights with two first-half runs of 9 and 34 yards. The junior running back finished the day with three touchdowns to go along with 228 rushing yards on only 14 carries. The Knights also got two touchdown passes from Rhett Magner in beating the Stars, who fell to 0-2 on the season.
Soldotna actually outgained Colony in the air, with quarterback Cameron Schneider throwing for 76 yards on 7-for-10 passing. However, Schneider also threw three interceptions, and Colony's offense capitalized by racking up 303 rushing yards on 37 carries.
On the other side of the ball, the Colony defense stifled the SoHi ground attack, holding Soldotna to just 89 rushing yards on 41 carries.
Soldotna has yet to score this season, although the Stars have yet to face a small-schools opponent. Next week, the Stars will face another 4A school, Lathrop, which lost 16-14 to Kenai on Saturday.
Knights 41, Stars 0
Soldotna 0 0 0 0 0
Colony 14 21 0 6 41
Col Petru 23 pass from Magner (Benson kick), 10:05
Col Olivera 9 run (Benson kick), 2:47
Col Schwartzbauer 24 pass from Magner (Benson kick), 11:11
Col Olivera 34 run (Benson kick), 7:59
Col Stratton 5 run (Benson kick), 0:23
Col Olivera 24 run (kick blocked), 11:42
First downs 11 21
Rushes-yards 41-89 37-303
Passing yards 76 64
Return yards 114 114
Passing 7-10-3 5-9-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 8-73 4-35
Rushing Soldotna: Gardner 5-27, Cameron 16-24, Schneider 11-22, J. Goracke 9-16. Colony: Olivera 14-228, Harris 3-32, Stratton 6-15, Gangstad 1-15, Magner 5-12, Coffman 2-10, Collins 1-4, Nac Nac 3-(-3), Harvey 1-(-4), Egger 1-(-6).
Passing Soldotna: Schneider 7-10-3-76. Colony: Magner 5-7-0-64, Gangstad 0-1-0-0, Egger 0-1-1-0.
Receiving Soldotna: Mills 2-53, B. Goracke 2-10, Wilbanks 1-15, J. Goracke 1-3, Cameron 1-(-5). Colony: Schwartzbauer 2-30, Petru 1-23, Ayay 1-7, Harvey 1-4.
Homer 35, ACS 0
The Homer Mariners overcame 165 penalty yards to crush the Anchorage Christian Schools Lions 35-0 in nonconference action Friday in Homer.
Homer's offense only gained 162 yards on the day, but its defense forced ACS into eight punts while holding the Lions to just 41 total yards.
Senior Bryan Smith led the Mariners with two rushing touchdowns, scoring on runs of 3 and 15 yards. Smith finished the day with 52 yards on nine carries, while junior Jason West added a touchdown to go along with 62 yards on 14 carries for the Mariners.
Homer quarterback Canyon McKinstry also helped key the Mariners attack, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another in the second quarter.
With the victory, Homer moves to 1-1 (0-0 in the NLC) on the season. Next Saturday, they travel to North Pole to face the undefeated Patriots, who beat Skyview 51-0 on Saturday.
Mariners 35, Lions 0
Homer 7 13 0 15 35
ACS 0 0 0 0 0
Hom Smith 3 run (Heenan kick), 6:08
Hom Fraley 8 pass from McKinstry (Heenan kick), 7:23
Hom McKinstry 4 run (kick failed), 2:51
Hom West 1 run (McKinstry run), 11:48
Hom Smith 15 run (Heenan kick), 7:13
First downs 9 6
Rushes-yards 31-100 36-17
Passing yards 62 24
Return yards 67 35
Passing 4-10-2 2-7-1
Fumbles-lost 4-1 6-1
Penalties-yards 17-165 6-35
Rushing Homer: West 14-65, Smith 9-52, Fraley 1-5, McKinstry 7-(-22). ACS: Fuller 7-18, B. Dunbar 11-17, No. 47 4-8, J. Slepecki 4-5, Dyson 3-1, Volstad 1-(-3), White 2-(-10), N. Slepecki 4-(-19).
Passing Homer: McKinstry 4-10-2-62. ACS: Dyson 2-7-1-24.
Receiving Homer: Moffet 2-50, Fraley 1-8, Smith 1-4. ACS: J. Slepecki 1-12, Fuller 1-12.
Seward 6, Houston 0, 2OT
Sophomore quarterback Coty Beck hit senior Sean Chase with a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second overtime, as Seward won its first Great Land Conference game of the season over the visiting Houston Hawks.
The Seahawk defense managed to keep Houston out of the end zone despite 206 rushing yards by the Hawks.
Seward was outgained 218 to 81 in total offense, but Houston was never able to crack the goal line against the stingy Seward defense.
Seahawks 6, Hawks 0
Seward 0 0 0 0 0 6 6
Houston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sew Chase 10 pass from Beck (kick failed).
Rushes-yards 26-52 50-206
Passing yards 29 12
Return yards 36 59
Passing 4-8-0 1-8-0
Punts 2-21.5 7-29.4
Rushing Seward: No. 30 8-52, Chase 1-9, Gilmore 4-3, Webber 1-1, Beck 12-(-11). Houston: Bertling 32-138, Richey 14-44, Kappler 3-24, Thistle 1-(-2).
Passing Seward: Beck 4-7-0-29. Houston: Richey 1-8-0-12.
Receiving Seward: Chase 2-15, Rininger 1-14. Houston: Lopez 1-12.
Eielson 27, Nikiski 20
Behind 121 rushing yards from Nick Rogers, Eielson scored 27 consecutive points to beat the visiting Nikiski Bulldogs in Great Land Conference action Saturday in Fairbanks.
Nikiski senior Jeremiah Taylor tried to lead the Bulldogs back with two fourth-quarter scores, but it was not enough to overcome 400 yards of Raven offense.
After Eielson's Jamie Hurlburt put the Ravens ahead 21-6 in the fourth, Taylor took an Eielson kickoff back 75 yards for a touchdown. Taylor then followed that score with a 30-yard touchdown reception from Travis McGahan to cut the lead to 7.
Taylor scored all three touchdowns for the Bulldogs, as he and McGahan opened the scoring with a 9 yard hookup in the first quarter.
Nikiski is now 1-1 overall, 0-1 in the conference. Eielson leads the Great Land Conference with a record of 2-0. Nikiski hosts ACS Friday at 6 p.m.
Ravens 27, Bulldogs 20
Eielson 0 6 15 6 27
Nikiski 6 0 0 14 20
Nik Taylor 9 pass from McGahan (kick blocked), 0:31
Eiel Skinner 22 run (kick blocked), 5:19
Eiel Skinner 3 run (Skinner run), 7:44
Eiel N. Rogers 2 run (Broussard kick), 1:56
Eiel Hurlburt 3 run (kick failed), 9:21
Nik Taylor 75 kickoff return (pass intercepted), 9:08
Nik Taylor 30 pass from McGahan (Olive pass from McGahan), 4:22
First downs 9 14
Rushes-yards 34-84 47-312
Passing yards 43 88
Return yards 209 19
Passing 3-7-4-43 3-8-2-88
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 4-30 9-70
Rushing Nikiski: Anderson 20-73, Russell 1-10, Mazurek 5-4, Lorenzo 5-(-4), McGahan 3-1. Eielson: N. Rogers 20-121, Skinner 13-87, Odom 7-84, Tidwell 5-16, Hurlburt 1-3, Wright 1-1.
Passing Nikiski: McGahan 3-7-4-43. Eielson: Skinner 3-8-2-88.
Receiving Nikiski: Taylor 3-43. Eielson: Odom 3-88.
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