The Kenai Central High School football team continued its winning streak Saturday by defeating Eielson High School 34-14 at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai in a nonconference matchup.
The Kardinals (5-0 overall) scored first with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Senior Dane Meyers sacked Eielson quarterback Evan Skinner, setting up a 5-yard Cory Janson touchdown. The point-after kick from Jamie Montgomery put Kenai ahead by seven.
Janson, a junior, set up a second touchdown with 37 seconds remaining in the first half, when he ran for 11 yards on a misdirection play from the Eielson 15. A Michael Tunseth-to-Wally Ward pass followed by another Montgomery extra point added seven more points for the Kardinals.
On the following kickoff, however, Steve Echtinaw returned the ball 80 yards to give Eielson a chance to score. The Ravens capitalized three plays later, with just two seconds before halftime. George Skinner missed the extra point and the half ended with Kenai ahead by 14-6.
"We felt like we gave `em points," said Kenai coach Jim Beeson . "We had to take the momentum back that we gave them.
"During halftime, we tried not focusing on the negative."
Beeson applauded his special teams, in spite of the breakdown in the final seconds of the half.
"Other than that kickoff return, special teams was huge," he said.
Following the half, the Kardinal special teams made a huge play at the end of Eielson's first series, converting a blocked punt into a touchdown. The kick, from the 9-yard line, was knocked back into the end zone, where senior Wally Ward fell on it.
In the fourth quarter, Kenai scored twice more, first putting together a 26-yard drive capped off by Ward's 1-yard push into the end zone, and then by a 35-yard punt return by Janson. Montgomery missed the first of the two extra-point attempts.
Eielson found its way into the end zone one more time after a 70-yard drive ended by Kenji Badger's 5-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion following the Ravens touchdown closed out the final scoring drive of the game.
After the game, Beeson gave Janson credit for holding steady against what he described as a solid defense.
"This was a tough team. The yards he got today were all hard yards," Beeson said.
"Cory got that second gear," Beeson said, referring to Janson's frequent second efforts that turned lost running downs into gains.
Janson averaged 4.2 yards per carry with 29 carries. Only two runs were for double-digit yardage.
"It definitely wasn't like the other game," Janson said of his effort Saturday. "They were keying me hard. But everybody (was) blocking hard."
Beeson said Eielson's defense focused its attack on Janson, but still weren't able to contain him. "People know what we're gonna do, but they still have to come out and stop us," he said.
Janson, the leading ground gainer for the Northern Lights Conference, rushed for 197 yards Saturday, increasing his total this year to 979 yards.
He says he is positive he can break the school rushing record of 1,512 yards set by Dennis Machado in 1993.
"With the blocking we have, I think I can make it," Janson said.
Jamie Montgomery, the senior kicker, also is on track to break a school record. After just five games, she has 19 extra-point kicks -- just four shy of the school record of 23 set by Steven Douglas in 1995.
"It has to do with the fact that our team has been so successful," she said. "The number of touchdowns."
Montgomery is aware that such an accomplishment could make a statement for women.
"I like to think that if I'm playing football, in general, it'll make a lot of girls more confident," she said. "I don't think (girls) are as concerned about being hurt as they are about being accepted."
"She's just like one of the guys," Beeson said. "The only difference is she dresses in the girls locker room."
Beeson said Montgomery was valuable to the team as more than just a kicker, referring to a block she gave in the fourth quarter that opened up a 9-yard rushing gain. "If I had to have a girl play, it'd be her," he said.
Both Janson and Montgomery attribute the team's 5-0 record, as well their own individual successes, to the entire team's effort.
"All my yards I give to the team. The win is the most important stat," Janson said.
"The biggest strength is everybody staying together . . . wanting it as a coming goal," Montgomery said. "Everybody knows the guy next to him will do everything to get his job done."
KARDINALS 34, RAVENS 14
Eielson 0 6 0 8 --14
Kenai 7 7 7 13 --34
Ken -- Janson 5 run (Montgomery kick), 7:41(?)
Ken -- Ward 8 pass from Tunseth (Montgomery kick), :21
Eie -- Hawkins 6 pass from G. Skinner (kick failed), :02
Ken -- Ward recovered blocked punt in the endzone (Montgomery kick), 6:03
Ken -- Ward 1 run (kick failed), 10:04
Ken -- Janson 35 punt return (Montgomery kick), 9:44
Eie -- Badger 5 run (Badger pass from E. Skinner), 5:39
First downs 8 7
Rushes-yards 21-35 47-197
Passing yards 114 25
Return yards 18 72
Passing 8-29-3 2-7-2
Punts-avg 7-15.6 4-17.8
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 11-100 13-80
Rushing -- Eielson: Badger 12-20, E. Skinner 7-12, G. Skinner 2-3. Kenai: Janson 47-197, Craig 9-39, Tunseth 4 - 12, Ward 4 - 5, Scheffert 1 - 1.
Passing -- Eielson: E. Skinner 7-28-3-106, G. Skinner 1-1-0-20. Kenai: Tunseth 2-7-2-25.
Receiving -- Eielson: Hawkins 4-54, G. Skinner 3-46, Echtinaw 1-26. Kenai: Jollifle 1-17, Ward 1-8.
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