Just how easily did Nikiski move the ball Friday night in its 53-12 Great Land Conference victory over Anchorage Christian Schools?
It was the middle of the third quarter when Bulldogs junior quarterback Josh Reilly sat under center at the Nikiski 26-yard line facing a third-and-three.
As Reilly lifted up his left leg to send a player in motion, he felt a weird locking and stinging sensation in his left calf.
"My calf cramped up right as I was waiting for the snap," Reilly said. "I can run with it -- it just hurts -- so I decided to do the play anyway."
Reilly took the snap, rolled right and saw that, once again, his blockers had sectioned off a wide lane for him to run through. After a stiff arm, he got around the corner and, cramp and all, ran 74 yards to the end zone, where he collapsed in pain.
The play was called back due to a clip down the field, but Reilly's impaired run illustrated how much the Nikiski line owned the Lions' defense.
"We've got 11 guys on defense that have never played before," said ACS coach David Duncan, who resurrected football at the school this year. "We tried five or six different formations to put them in the right spot at the right time, but nothing worked.
"It was just pure experience that made the difference."
Area prep scores
Nikiski 53, ACS 12
Bartlett 33, Kenai 8
Soldotna 34, Houston 12
Friday, Sept. 8
Skyview at Nikiski, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9
Kenai at Homer, 2 p.m.
Ketchikan at Soldotna, 2 p.m.
ACS at Seward, 2 p.m.
Houston at Sitka
Friday, Sept. 15
Ketchikan at Skyview, 5:30 p.m.
Service JV at Nikiski, 5 p.m.
Houston at Seward, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16
Kenai at Soldotna, 3 p.m.
Homer at ACS, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Nikiski at Seward, 2 p.m.
Soldotna at Homer, 2 p.m.
Skyview at Kenai, 3 p.m.
ACS at Sitka
Saturday, Sept. 30
Semifinal round, TBA
Saturday, Oct. 7
State championship at AFS, TBA
Saturday, Aug. 12
Palmer 21, Skyview 6
Nikiski 28, Houston 7
Eielson 21, Kenai 14, OT
Wasilla 13, Soldotna 7
Sitka 39, Seward 7
Homer 36, Ketchikan 6
Friday, Aug. 18
Skyview 27, Seward 0
Kenai 54, Ketchikan 8
ACS 38, Kenai JV 6
Saturday, Aug. 19
Nikiski 35, Sitka 0
Service 28, Soldotna 6
West Valley 38, Houston 12
Friday, Aug. 25
Soldotna 14, Skyview 6
Nikiski 17, Kenai 8
Saturday, Aug. 26
Seward 15, Homer 12
Houston 46, ACS 13
Sitka 67, Ketchikan 6
ACS had such a hard time disrupting Nikiski on offense that many of the plays looked like those players run through in the pregame when the defense isn't present.
The Bulldogs, who are now 3-0 in the GLC and 4-0 overall, had 490 yards of offense and averaged about 10 yards per rush.
Reilly was just one of Nikiski's offenders to finish with video-game-like numbers. He had 108 yards passing, 75 yards rushing and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Junior Steven Calderwood rushed for 129 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore Joshua Winters had 107 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
"We had some great blocking by our offensive line today," Calderwood said. "If they get me started, I'll finish off the rest.
"Today, they got me the first 5 yards and I did the rest."
Senior quick tackle Seth Tauriainen said the Lions had size and talent on defense, but added they didn't do a lot of little things that come with experience. Those little things added up to big holes.
"When our running backs got going, they were fun to watch," senior quick guard Gabe Lavigueur said. "They were running hard."
Bulldogs coach Scott Anderson said the line's dominating performance was satisfying because Nikiski lost its starting strong guard and strong tackle to injury this week. Junior Nigel Penhale filled in at strong guard, while junior Chris Overhuls plugged the hole at strong tackle.
While the ACS defense was steamrolled, the Lions offense, particularly crafty sophomore quarterback Richard Stafford, turned in a performance that area fans should stick in their pockets and remember. That way they won't be shocked when ACS becomes a formidable opponent in the next few years.
The Lions got 18 first downs against the Bulldogs en route to rolling up 290 yards of total offense.
Their scoring drives were earned, not accomplished on breaking a fluke play here and there. In the second quarter, the Lions went 60 yards on 12 plays to score. In the fourth quarter, ACS hit pay dirt after 87 yards and 10 plays.
Stafford showed a knack for gaining the extra yard or finding a seam in the defense all night, finishing with 85 yards rushing and 84 yards passing.
Senior Adam Lewis had a rushing and passing score for the Lions.
"Their offense broke us a few times," said Tauriainen, who also plays defensive end. "We have to work on that."
Duncan said his team's success on offense comes because playing on that side of the ball takes less experience.
"On offense, I can tell them before the snap that they should run here, or they should block that guy there," said Duncan, whose team is 0-2 in the GLC and 2-2 overall. "We do fine on offense, but defense doesn't work like that and defense keeps you in a game."
The Bulldogs will host Skyview Friday at 5:30 p.m., while ACS will travel to Seward for a 2 p.m. game Saturday.
BULLDOGS 53, LIONS 12
ACS 0 6 0 6 --12
Nikiski 14 13 13 13 --53
Nik -- Reilly 41 run (Seater kick), 10:53
Nik -- Calderwood 7 run (Seater kick), 8:31
ACS -- Lewis 3 run (kick failed), 9:07
Nik -- Reilly 7 run (Seater kick), 8:11
Nik -- Calderwood 3 run (kick failed), 1:44
Nik -- Calderwood 7 run (run failed), 4:55
Nik -- Calderwood 7 run (Seater kick), 1:55
Nik -- Winters 10 run (Seater kick), 11:24
ACS -- Lewis 15 pass from Stafford (kick failed), 7:05
Nik -- Winters 31 run (kick failed), 4:54
First downs 18 14
Rushes-yards 61-206 37-369
Passing yards 84 121
Return yards 30 65
Passing 9-18-2 5-9-1
Punts-avg 4-26 0-0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 5-3
Penalties-yards 6-31 4-50
Rushing -- ACS: Lewis 21-56, Stafford 27-85, McCarty 8-62, Shanahan 1-2, McCrory 3-8, Montgomery 1-(-7). Nikiski: Calderwood 14-129, Crumpacker 6-32, Reilly 5-75, Alexander 1-3, Winters 6-107, Allen 4-24, Sanders 1-(-1).
Passing -- ACS: Stafford 9-18-2-84. Nikiski: Reilly 4-8-1-108, Brigham 1-1-0-13.
Receiving -- ACS: Alden 3-36, Lewis 5-47, Hegge 1-1. Nikiski: Holloway 3-58, Roofe 2-63.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.