Despite holding a 20-point lead going into the final 90 seconds last week against Homer, Soldotna only came away with a 26-20 win. So when the Stars took the field Friday night, they wanted to atone for their late-game, Week 3 letdown and re-establish themselves as a dominant force in small-schools football.
Bad news for Houston.
SoHi trounced the visiting Hawks 70-0 to notch its third consecutive Northern Lights Conference victory and remain undefeated this season.
The Homer game left a sour taste in the team's mouth, Stars head coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. SoHi had something to prove this week, he said.
"Our pride was challenged a little bit," Brantley Jr. said. "We underperformed."
Brantley Jr. said he was pleased with his team's intensity level against Houston.
"Offensively, it's as good as we've looked all year," he said.
SoHi racked up 448 total rushing yards, averaging 22.4 yards per carry. Big plays and quick drives summed up SoHi's offense. The Stars' longest drive was only six plays.
Soldotna found the end zone on the first play of a drive four different times in the game, including scoring touchdowns on the first snap three straight offensive possessions.
The first of those came when Robbie Smithwick took in a 19-yard run after a failed fake punt by Houston with 7:19 to play in the first quarter. Smithwick finished the game with 91 rushing yards with two touchdowns on just two carries. Three minutes later, Tanner Fowler hit Garrett Bosick with a 37-yard pass after a Hawks punt to give SoHi a 21-0 lead.
Houston went three-and-out on its next possession, and again, the Stars wasted no time. Phil Bennett took the first snap and escaped for a 40-yard score. He had 97 yards on six carries and four touchdowns.
SoHi's offense didn't need to take the field to squeeze in one more score before the opening quarter ended. Bennett reached the end zone for the third time on a 65-yard punt return. The Stars led 35-0 after the first 12 minutes.
Two and a half minutes into the second quarter, Bennett recorded his fourth touchdown on a 16-yard run.
Five different Stars gained 60 yards or more on the ground. Six of SoHi's 10 touchdowns were 40-or-more-yard scores. Sophomore Auston Tennis provided the longest touchdown, a 97-yarder. After forcing a turnover on downs, SoHi started a drive at its own 3-yard line. Tennis started outside then cut back inside and found daylight on the second play from scrimmage with under a minute to go in the half. Tennis piled up a team-leading 135 rushing yards on just four carries. The Stars took a 56-0 lead to the locker room.
Prior to Tennis' field-length score, Smithwick took the first snap after a Houston punt into the end zone on a 72-yard run. Daniel Koch was a perfect 10-for-10 on PAT attempts.
Though many starters watched the second half from the sidelines, the Hawks had no answer for SoHi's running attack. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, sophomore Reid Schmelzenbach scored on a 46-yard run. He finished with 68 yards on four carries. Jared Duncan added a 44-yard touchdown to round out the scoring with 6:27 to play in the third.
SoHi was just as impressive on the defensive side.
The Stars sacked Houston quarterback Beau Franks six times, leading to his minus-26 rushing yards. Just two of six Hawks ballcarriers gained positive yardage.
"We were just blowing through and knocking them over," Stars senior Dakota Elsey said. "We were playing hard."
Elsey led his team with two and a half sacks. Tate Syverson had one and a half and Duncan and Koch each had one.
"It was a total team effort," Brantley Jr. said.
The linebacking corps of Syverson, Duncan, Smithwick, Bosick and Dawson Pearson played well, Brantley Jr. said.
"They're all athletic kids that can run," he said. "They're fun to watch."
The Stars improved from last week on both sides of the ball, Elsey said.
"We didn't play down to their level," he said. The team's execution on offense and defense also looked better against the Hawks, Elsey said.
Stars 70, Hawks 0
Houston 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Soldotna 35 21 14 0 -- 70
Sol -- Bennett 28 run (Kock kick), 8:50
Sol -- Smithwick 19 run (Kock kick), 7:19
Sol -- Bosick 37 pass from T. Fowler (Kock kick), 4:17
Sol -- Bennett 40 run (Kock kick), 3:02
Sol -- Bennett 65 punt return (Kock kick), 0:49
Sol -- Bennett 16 run (Kock kick), 9:31
Sol -- Smithwick 72 run (Kock kick), 5:53
Sol -- Tennis 97 run (Kock kick), 0:54
Sol -- Schmelzenbach 46 run (Kock kick), 10:16
Sol -- Duncan 44 run (Kock kick), 6:27
First downs 9 7
Rushes-yards 35-71 20-448
Comp-att-int 10-18-0 1-4-0
Passing yards 56 37
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-42 7-61
Punts-avg 7-30 0-0
Rushing -- Houston: Dukes 19-100, Frank 10-(-26), Kleewien 2-(-8), Ch. Buzby 2-12, Co. Buzby 1-(3), No. 2 1-(-4); Soldotna: Bennett 6-97, Tennis 4-135, Smithwick 2-91, Schmelzenbach 4-68, Duncan 3-60, N. Fowler 1-(-3).
Passing -- Houston: Frank 10-17-0-56, Dukes 0-1-0-0; Soldotna: T. Fowler 1-4-0-37.
Receiving -- Houston: No. 2 1-3, Ch. Buzby 2-4, Ruta 2-6, Hendricks 1-11, Dukes 1-5, Lapham 1-9, Co. Buzby 1-18; Soldotna: Bosick 1-37.
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