Turnabout is fair play. Right?
At last year's regular season finale, the Nikiski High School Bulldogs football team blanked the Skyview Panthers at home 55-0 for Nikiski's fourth shutout of the season en route to the school's second straight Great Land Conference state championship.
Saturday, the cleat was on the other foot as the Panthers returned last year's drubbing with a lopsided 40-0 score at Nikiski. Skyview head coach Wade Marcuson said he felt vindicated for his team's 2001 loss.
"It's a good feeling to knock off the two-time champs," he said. "I don't care if they are down (in talent)."
Moreover, Marcuson said his Panthers recovered well from the 49-0 loss they suffered in their first game of this season.
"It was something we knew we had to turn around the tempo to get a win," he said. "Last week we weren't opening holes and the backs weren't hitting holes like today."
The game opened with Nikiski moving the ball well on its first possession, collecting nearly 30 yards on the ground before turning the ball over twice on fumbles from sophomore signal caller Travis McGahan and senior running back Billy Anderson.
Having stolen the momentum, Skyview never allowed the Bulldogs to regain another solid offensive push until it was all but over.
"We were really impressed with the defense today," Marcuson said. "We went for the goose egg and we got it."
While the Skyview defense was busy stuffing Nikiski scoring attempts, the Panther backfield lit up the stat book and the scoreboard, earning a combined total of 461 yards and 358 ground yards on 42 attempts. Senior Mike Waer led all rushers with 200 yards and quarterback Justin Rainwater contributed 103 passing yards.
On their second possession of the contest, the Panthers picked up steam with a Waer nine-yard ground gain on first down from the Nikiski 44 yard line. Rainwater followed up this play by serving Waer a 21-yard strike that put Skyview deep into Bulldog territory for the first time in the game.
After a five-yard offsides penalty on the next down, freshman halfback Jacob Bellinger scored from 16 yards out with 1:19 left in the first quarter. Senior Jamie Beever followed with her first of four successful extra-point conversions out of six attempts.
Nikiski opened the second quarter with the ball in McGahan's hands. After gaining 11 yards at the end of the first period with Josh Winters and Anderson, McGahan took a naked bootleg for eight yards. Nikiski gained seven more and a new set of downs on a two-yard Anderson run and a five-yard facemask penalty against the Panthers.
But this fortune was short lived as McGahan committed Nikiski's third turnover, throwing an interception to Skyview's Cody Williams. The Panthers were unable to convert this turnover, however, and a Rainwater pass was intercepted just three plays later by Bulldog Joey Wicker.
Nikiski went three-and-out on their next possession and punted away to Skyview. Waer opened the series with a 25-yard carry. After Lukas Fellman rush for three yards, Waer toted the ball 23 more hash marks for Skyview's second touchdown with 6:02 remaining in the first half. Beever's extra point made the score 14-0.
The Bulldogs again went three-and-out on their next possession, losing six yards in the series. A wobbly snap blew McGahan's punt attempt on fourth down, and he tried to salvage the play with a run that resulted in only nine of the 15 yards needed for a first down.
The teams exchanged possessions twice as time ran down on the half, but the Panthers were able to make it into the end zone for one last score before time expired.
After a collection of Waer carries -- one for 21 yards -- senior Kevin McGrady scampered over the goal line from three yards out to score.
In the second half, the Panthers scored a little over three minutes into the third quarter on a 73-yard Waer sprint, after the back eluded Nikiski's defensive front five, danced past defending linebackers and flat-out out-hauled the Bulldog's defending backs.
The holes that he found at the line of scrimmage were courtesy of an overpowering Panther offensive line that read Nikiski's defensive front switch and adjusted accordingly.
"Communication through the line was perfect," said senior offensive lineman Mikael Barnes.
Fellow lineman Ryan Staab said the information turned into gold as the line shifted their play to accommodate Nikiski's new defensive scheme.
"We made the game adjustment when they shifted into their five-man front," Staab said. "And we just rolled with it."
The Panthers completed yet another lofty jaunt for the end zone midway through the third quarter on a Rainwater pass to senior Adam Kosydar who went rumbling, stumbling and bumbling 59 yard to the goal line. In the fourth, with 9:19 left in regulation, Skyview senior Trevor Tompkins took the ball in from 12 yards out.
Nikiski was not without its bright moments, but most of them, including a sustained 65-yard drive at the end of the fourth quarter, ended in futility. Nikiski head coach Lee Moore said much of the day's game was the result of the Bulldogs simply being outmatched.
"Skyview was a fantastic, well-coached team," he said. They just beat us up.
"We continue to ask guys to try to achieve excellence. (But) we don't always judge excellence by the scoreboard. Excellence might be zero on the scoreboard, but if we played to our potential ..."
Moore said his team was going to have to remain focused when they play Homer this Friday in Homer. He said the Bulldogs would have to improve on Saturday's game, where the team was unable to reach its potential.
"I don't think anyone on the team would say we achieved excellence today," he said. "We just exposed some things we need to work on."
KENAI 35, SEWARD 12
The Kenai Central High Kardinals notched their first victory of the season with a nonconference win at Seward Friday, 35-12.
"We came out and played well in the first half," said Kardinal coach Jim Beeson. "I didn't feel like we played like we could have the second half, but I guess you can't complain with a win."
Cory Janson led the Kenai offense with 244 yards rushing and three touchdowns while Kenai quarterbacks Michael Tunseth and Matt Mayer each connected with Drew Cramer for touchdowns.
Tunseth threw an interception with 31 seconds left in the second quarter, however, that Sean Chase returned 98 yards for a score.
"He just underthrew the ball," Beeson said. "And we had five opportunities to tackle the guy and we missed them. We can learn from those mistakes."
Sean Chase scored two touchdowns for the Seahawks, one on a 98-yard kick return and one on a pass from Ryan Gardner. Seward passed for 149 of their 165 total yards.
"Seward has improved a lot from the first time we saw them," Beeson said.
WEST VALLEY 24, SOLDOTNA 21
West Valley scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to snatch a nonconference victory from Soldotna in Fairbanks Friday.
Derek Martin put the Stars on the board with a 50-yard touchdown run, but West Valley responded by taking the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to tie the score at 6 after the first quarter.
Martin added a pair of touchdowns for the Stars in the second quarter on a 1-yard run and an 11-yard scamper. Martin scored a two-point conversion and Shane Tachick added an extra point to give Soldotna a 21-6 lead at the half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but West Valley put up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to overtake the Stars.
Martin finished with 98 yards on 16 carries while Scott Laurion churned out 55 yards on 12 carries.
HOUSTON 34, HOMER 12
The Hawks notched their first victory of the season, defeating Homer in Houston Friday in a nonconference matchup.
The Mariners got on the board first, springing David Drake for a 10-yard touchdown run and a 6-0 lead when the extra-point attempt failed.
The Hawks responded with a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown run, though, and made it 13-0 with a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
Houston put up two touchdowns in the third quarter, both on passes by Peter Clemens.
Drake scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks closed out the game with one more score.
Drake finished the game with 29 carries for 177 yards. Adam Cumb added 111 yards on 11 carries.
PANTHERS 40, BULLDOGS 0
Skyview 7 13 13 7 --40
Kenai 0 0 0 0 --0
Sky -- Bellinger 16 run (Beever kick), 1:19
Sky -- Waer 23 run (Beever kick), 6:02
Sky -- McGrady 3 run (kick failed), :41
Sky -- Waer 73 run (Beever kick), 8:57
Sky -- Kosydar 59 from Rainwater (kick failed), 6:15
Sky -- Tompkins 12 run (Beever kick), 9:19
First downs 24 16
Rushes-yards 42-358 38-125
Passing yards 103 39
Return yards 9 83
Passing 3-6-1 6-19-1
Punts-avg 1-35 6-23.5
Fumbles-lost 3-3 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-55 11-85
Rushing -- Skyview: Waer 16-200, Bellinger 10-56, Tompkins 3-37, CLeveland 3-28, Nelson 4-16, Smith 3-9, Fellman 2-8, Williams 1-5, McGrady 1-4. Nikiski: Anderson 15-60, Winters 11-36, McGahan 9-17, Russell 2-11, Womack 1-1.
Passing -- Skyview: Rainwater 3-6-1-103. Nikiski: McGahan 6-19-1-39.
Receiving -- Skyview: Kosydar 2-63, Waer 1-40. Nikisi: Oliva 3-32, Wicker 2-8, Anderson 1-(-1).
KARDINALS 35, SEAHAWKS 21
Kenai 14 14 0 7 --35
West Valley 0 6 0 6 --12
Ken -- Jansen 26 run (Reynolds kick), 9:08
Ken -- Janson 6 run (Reynolds kick), :57
Ken -- Cramer 26 pass from Tunseth (Reynolds kick), 6:58
Ken -- Janson 16 run (Reynolds kick), 4:07
Sew -- Chase 98 int from Tunseth (kick failed), :31
Ken -- Cramer 24 pass from Mayer (Reynolds kick) 9:24
Sew -- Chase 12 pass from Gardner (kicked failed), 1:33
Rushes-yards 48-300 22-17
Passing yards 88 149
Passing 7-21-1 13-32-0
Rushing -- Kenai: Janson 32-244, Craig 4-38, Reynolds 6-22, Nicholas 2-4, Tunseth 4-(-8). Seward : Rininger 9-48, Chase 4-0, Wolfe 1-(-3), Swiderski 3-(-4), Gardner 5-(-24).
Passing -- Kenai: Tunseth 5-14-57-1, Mayer2-6-31-0, Craig 0-1-0-0. Seward: Gardner 13-31-149-0.
Receiving -- Kenai: Cramer4-76, Janson 3-12. Seward: Conlin 3-68, Chase 4-41, Svabik 2-16, Swiderski 1-4, Rininger 4-3.
HAWKS 34, MARINERS 12
Homer 6 0 0 6 -- 12
Houston 6 7 14 7 -- 34
Hom -- Drake 10 run (kick failed)
Hou -- Martinson 70 kick return (kick failed)
Hou -- Clemens 1 run (Richie kick)
Hou -- M. Sandidge 25 pass from Clemens (Richie kick)
Hou -- Richie 3 pass from Clemens (Richie kick)
Hom -- Drake 1 run (kick failed)
Hou -- Clemens 2 run (Bartells kick)
First downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 48-273 27-66
Passing yards 0 199
Return yards 89 107
Passing 0-6-2 15-26-2
Punts-avg 3-33.0 4-32.0
Fumbles-lost 7-4 1-0
Penalties-yards 10-108 4-30
Rushing -- Homer: Drake 29-177, Crumb 11-111, McKinney 7-(-10), No. 70 1-(-5). Houston: Harvey 9-66, Smith 5-8, Martinson 1-0, Richie 2-(-2), Clemens 10-(-6).
Passing -- Homer: McKinney 0-6-2--0. Houston: Clemens 15-26-2--199.
Receiving -- Houston: Richie 8-111, M. Sandidge 2-56, Veit 2-10, D. Sandidge 1-12, Redford 1-8, Martinson 1-2.
Wolfpack 24, Stars 21
Soldotna 6 15 0 0 --21
West Valley 6 0 0 18 --24
Sol -- Martin 50 run (kick failed), 0:14
WV -- Allison 70 kick return (run failed), 0:00
Sol -- Martin 1 run (Martin run), 7:39
Sol -- Martin 11 run (Tachick kick), 6:00
WV -- Dobb 8 run (run failed), 6:30
WV -- Moody 18 pass from Fulk (run failed), 4:53
WV -- Dobbs 28 run (run failed), 1:00
Soldotna West Valley
First downs 12 12
Rushes-yards 42-191 32-200
Passing yards 24 71
Passing 3-10-2 4-11-0
Fumbles-lost 8-5 9-4
Penalties-yards 9-75 2-15
Rushing -- Soldotna: Martin 16-98, Laurion 12-55, Ghormley 4-20, Gardner 6-12, E. Simpson 4-6. West Valley: Dobbs 18-121, Allison 5-20, Tufford 4-38, Fulk 5-21.
Passing -- Soldotna: E. Simpson 3-10-2--24. West Valley: Allison1-4-0-- 32, Fulk 3-7-0--39.
Receiving -- Soldotna: R. Simpson 1-(-1), Burman 1-10, Martin 6-15. West Valley: Moody 2-50, Allison 2-21.
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