Palmer's Justin Draughon loses his mouth guard on a tackle against Soldotna's Marvin Tate in the second quarter Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Soldotna offense, short-circuited by penalties, turnovers and broken plays, had gotten just six first downs all game when the Stars received the ball on their own 46 trailing 7-2 with 4:19 left in a nonconference game against Palmer at Justin Maile Field.
SoHi, shaking off the driving rain that had been falling all game, proceeded to construct a crisp, six-play drive for the winning score. Senior Mike Reed, who rushed 22 times for 154 yards in the game, had all but 1 yard during the drive.
Reed capped the march with a 4-yard touchdown with 2:09 remaining and then a two-point conversion to give the Stars a 10-7 victory on Friday.
“It takes a lot to have that kind of pride at the finish,” Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said.
Due to the rain, neither team had any passing yards. That let defenses concentrate on the run, so the longest running play in the game was 23 yards.
“Two things matter when you are moving the ball 5 yards at a time penalties and fumbles,” Palmer coach Rod Christiansen said. “We just weren’t consistent in avoiding those two things.”
Soldotna's Kelly Seggerman misses a pass in the end zone in front of Palmer's Haakan Bohman at the end of the second quarter Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Neither were the Stars. Both teams had six fumbles, losing two. Palmer had seven penalties for 47 yards, while Soldotna had 13 penalties for 100 yards.
Palmer’s one solid drive came in the first quarter, a five-play effort that covered 47 yards and took just 1:52. It was capped by a 10-yard run by Haakan Bohman, who led Palmer with 118 yards on 26 carries.
After not being competitive in a 41-6 loss to Colony last week, the slow start concerned Truesdell.
“Last week when Colony got a good start, the kids stuck their heads in the sand,” Truesdell said. “They had an opportunity to do that again this week after Palmer went through our defense like a hot knife through butter.
“They didn’t do that.”
The only first downs Palmer got in the first half were on that scoring drive. In the second quarter, the Moose had minus 1 yard on six carries.
Truesdell gave Kelly Seggerman credit for a gutsy performance. The receiver-outside linebacker hurt his ankle on offense in the first quarter and sat out Palmer’s scoring drive.
He came back after that to play the rest of the game, and with 6:11 left in the second quarter Seggerman caught Palmer quarterback Conrad Smith for a safety.
The SoHi offense had a rough first half, getting just four first downs, racking up 45 yards in penalties and fumbling twice but recovering the fumbles.
Things didn’t get better for the offenses in the second half. Within the first eight minutes, Soldotna fumbled away the kickoff, Palmer fumbled and lost the ball on the Soldotna 9, Soldotna fumbled and lost the ball on its 26 and Palmer, after having a touchdown called back on a holding penalty, again fumbled and lost the ball on the Soldotna 9.
Early in the fourth quarter, Palmer mounted the longest drive of the game, starting on its 17. The drive lasted 7:30 and got as far as the Soldotna 28. On third-and-eight, the Moose committed a 10-yard holding penalty.
On third-and-eighteen, the Moose lost 4 more yards after recovering their own fumble. After a punt that went for negative yardage, Soldotna was set up on its 46 for the winning drive.
Reed said the Stars relied heavily on running off tackle on the winning drive. He said that play had been working well all half, but the Stars had kept stopping themselves with mistakes.
How did the team finally pull it together?
“We are definitely one of the closest teams around,” Reed said. “We all get along with each other, and that goes a long toward keeping things positive when things are going bad.”
Truesdell said having 15 seniors that have been in the program helps in clutch situations. The coaching staff had yanked Reed off the field several times in the first half for false start penalties, but the senior came through when it mattered.
“I’ve had players that would not have been able to take that,” Truesdell said. “We’d take them off the field and yell at them, and they’d lose their composure. (Reed) regained his composure.”
The game-winning drive gave sophomore quarterback Anthony Griglione a victory in his first game at quarterback. Griglione had not played the position since Pop Warner, but Truesdell wanted Griglione’s athleticism on the field so he got him four days at quarterback in practice last week.
Stars 10, Moose 7
Palmer 7 0 0 0 7
Soldotna 0 2 0 8 10
Pal Bohman 10 run (Melin kick), 3:46
Sol Safety, 6:11
Sol Reed 4 run (Reed run), 2:09
First downs 8 9
Rushes-yards 44-125 46-217
Passing yards 0 0
Return yards 28 -5
Passing 0-4-0 0-3-0
Punts-avg 5-15.4 5-33.4
Fumbles-lost 6-2 6-2
Penalties-yards 7-47 13-100
Rushing Palmer: Smith 8-2, Sawyer 8-1, Bohman 26-118, Konkler 1-1, Thorne 1-3; Soldotna: Reed 22-154, Gardner 6-14, Tate 7-32, Griglione 11-17.
Passing Palmer: Smith 0-4-0-0; Soldotna: Griglione 0-3-0-0.
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