The Kenai Kardinals showed they can take to the air Saturday, using three Cole Chappell touchdown passes to fly past the Colony Knights 27-6 Saturday at Ed Hollier field in Kenai.
Chappell made Colony pay for fumbling the opening kickoff when he hit tight end Josh Bennett for a 7-yard strike on just the third Kenai play from scrimmage. From there, the Kardinals never eased up against the Knights, handing Colony its second loss of the season. Kenai moved to 2-1 with the nonconference victory.
Following the game, Chappell said the Kardinals took advantage of Colony's desire to contain halfback Dakota Craig.
"They were bringing eight (defenders) in the box," Chappell said following the game. "They were keying on Dakota, so play action worked pretty good."
After Bennett's touchdown, the Kenai defense took the field and promptly put a stranglehold on the Colony offense. Kenai forced the Knights to punt after losing 3 yards on its first possession, and the Kardinals quickly went back on the attack.
After fielding the Colony punt at its own 35-yard line, Kenai ran nine straight running plays deep into Colony territory. Kenai ran nearly five minutes off the clock before Chappell hit junior wide receiver Micah Lillard with a perfect fade to the back corner of the end zone.
Although the Knights tried their best to contain the Kenai running game, both Chappell and Craig as well as fullback Ryann Hansen were able to wear down the Colony line with the methodical running attack. Craig finished with a game-high 111 yards on 23 carries, while Chappell added 86 and Hansen pitched in 43.
Kenai's Cole Chappell dodges a tackle attempt from Colony's Nick Simpson in the third quarter Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Colony showed a flicker of life in the second quarter, after quarterback Rhett Magner broke several tackles and busted through the middle of the Kenai line for a 70-yard touchdown scamper. However, that play would prove to be one of the few Magner or any other Colony back would find much daylight. Colony, which ran for over 300 yards last week against Soldotna, could only manage a total of 79 yards on the ground.
Besides holding Magner to a net total of 28 yards on the ground, Kenai held Colony back Shawn Olivera to just 18 yards on six carries. Olivera rushed for 228 yards last week against the Stars.
Colony coach Randy Magner said his team simply ran into a superior squad on Saturday.
"They were as good as we thought they were," he said. "They were tough."
Magner said his team couldn't get much going on offense, as the Kenai defense was able to anticipate most of what the Knights tried to do.
"I think we got outplayed and we got out-coached," Magner said.
He said the loss will give his team plenty to think about as it heads into Railbelt Conference play next week against Wasilla.
"It was a wake-up call," he said.
Any comeback hopes the Knights may have had after Magner's touchdown were dealt a quick blow when Colony fumbled on the first play of its next possession. Papapa Nicholas recovered the loose ball at the Colony 15, giving Kenai one last chance to score with 41 seconds left in the half.
The Kards quickly went to work, as Chappell connected on back-to-back passes to Marcus Reemtsma and Billy Loosli, the second strike going for a 7-yard touchdown.
In the second half, Kenai slowed down the pace of play, using ball control and solid defense to keep the Knights from attempting a comeback. Although Magner tried to throw Colony back into the game, attempting 15 passes, Kenai's defensive backfield didn't allow Colony's receivers anything down the field. Magner finished the day with just 69 passing yards and one interception by T.J. Hancock on 16 attempts.
The Kardinals put the game away for good late in the fourth quarter, when Craig rumbled 16 yards for the final score of the game with just 2:19 to play.
The junior running back, who also keyed the Kenai defense from his linebacker position, said the Kenai coaching staff did a great job getting Kenai ready to play.
"Our coaches really prepare us for every game," Craig said. "Pretty much we knew every play they were going to run."
Kenai was able to control the line of scrimmage all day against the Knights, even though the Colony front appeared to easily outsize the Kenai defense.
Senior lineman Justin Lee, who forced one fumble and recovered another on the day, said Kenai's line simply outworked the larger Colony front.
"We just went out and outworked them," Lee said.
With his team now 2-1 and coming off two consecutive victories over large-school opponents, Beeson said he believes Kenai has proven it has a solid football team. However, he cautioned that Kenai's two big nonconference victories don't mean much once Kenai starts conference play next week against Kodiak.
"Those are the important games," Beeson said. "These wins just gave us confidence."
Kardinals 27, Knights 6
Colony 0 6 0 0 6
Kenai 14 6 0 7 27
Ken Bennett 7 pass from Chappell (Araya kick), 11:09
Ken Lillard 17 pass from Chappell (Araya kick), 4:35
Col Magner 70 run (kick failed), 10:18
Ken Loosli 7 pass from Chappell (kick failed), :28
Ken Craig 16 run (Araya kick), 2:19
First downs 14 7
Rushes-yards 47-240 24-79
Passing yards 61 69
Return yards 22 141
Passing 5-8-261 8-15-1-69
Punts-avg 3-28.3 2-30.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-3
Penalties-yards 8-84 6-62
Rushing Kenai: Craig 23-111, Chappell 18-86, Hansen 6-43 Colony: Magner 9-28, Olivera 6-18, Craig 3-15, Coffman 3-9, Collins 1-4, No. 2 1-3, No. 24 1-2
Passing Kenai: Chappell 5-8-2-61. Colony: Magner 8-16-1-69
Receiving Kenai: Bennett 2-30, Lillard 1-17, Loosli 1-7, Reemstma 1-7. Colony: Schwartzbauer 5-54, Craig 2-12, Ayay-DeHart 1-3.
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