Turnabout is fair play.
A year ago, the Soldotna High School football team spoiled Homer's homecoming game, defeating the Mariners 30-0.
Saturday, the Mariners were more than happy to return the favor, putting a damper on the Stars' homecoming festivities with a 14-12 win at Justin Maile Field in a pivotal Northern Lights Conference game.
"I've never beaten SoHi -- it's nice to get them back," said Mariners quarterback Aaron Smith.
Soldotna put the only points of the first half on the board with a 23-yard pass play from Kyle Foster to Todd Ghormley on a fourth-and-six with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.
Homer regrouped at the half, though, to score all of its 14 points in the third quarter. The Mariners converted on their opening possession of the second half, capping an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by David Drake.
Drake added the extra point to give Homer a 7-6 lead.
The Mariners then forced a Soldotna punt and pinned the Stars in when a 40-yard field goal attempt by Drake didn't make it to the goal line and was recovered and downed on the 5-yard line by Soldotna.
A 7-yard run by Scott Laurion gave the Stars some breathing room, but the Homer defense, which was able to penetrate the Soldotna backfield all afternoon, knocked the ball loose on the next play to set the Mariners offense up with a first-and-goal on the Soldotna 6-yard line.
Homer's Luke Roberts took three tries to get into the end zone and Drake's extra point gave the Mariners a 14-6 lead with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter.
"We cut down on our mistakes," Homer coach Todd Phillips said of the Mariners' second-half success. "(In the first half), we were driving the ball on them every time, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. We just kept driving the ball, keeping things consistent, running between the tackles."
Soldotna's defense came up big to open the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble and pouncing on the ball at Homer's 20-yard line.
The Stars put together a patient drive -- Soldotna used 11 plays to get their 20 yards, and got a pass interference call on fourth-and-12 to keep the drive alive -- and scored on a 1-yard run by Cason Simpson.
Soldotna's passing attempt on the two-point conversion was played well by the Mariners, though, preventing Soldotna from tying the game.
Soldotna's defense created one more chance with just over two minutes remaining in the game when Laurion intercepted a pass near his own goal line and returned it 30 yards.
A flag for a late hit out of bounds by the Mariners gave the Soldotna offense the ball near midfield, but Homer's Jon Adams dashed the Stars' comeback hopes with an interception with 30 seconds to play to seal the Homer victory.
"Overcoming obstacles," said Smith, summarizing the keys to Homer's success. "We had some terrible penalties and turnovers, but we overcame them."
While the Mariners were able to overcome their mistakes, the Stars were not.
"We just made too many mistakes," Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said. "I gotta bet we were way in the hole (with penalties). I thought Homer really came in defensively and stopped us from getting outside, which is something we were able to do last week against Skyview.
"We stalemated ourselves on some drives. Our kids know we had the opportunity to win this football game."
Homer improves to 5-1 overall and, more importantly, 1-1 and still alive for a playoff spot in the NLC.
"That was our goal," Phillips said.
Homer visits undefeated Kenai next week and hosts Ketchikan in its regular-season finale.
The Stars drop to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the NLC. Soldotna plays Houston in a nonconference game next week before finishing up against Kenai, a game that could determine the conference championship, pending the outcome of the Kenai-Homer matchup.
"When you get knocked down, you have to get back up again," said Soldotna's Trevor Metteer. "We got knocked down today, but we didn't give up."
MARINERS 14, STARS 12
Homer 0 0 14 0 -- 14
Soldotna 0 6 0 6 -- 12
Sol -- Ghormley 23 pass from Foster (kick failed), 0:41
Hom -- Drake 1 run (Drake kick), 8:19
Hom -- Roberts 6 run (Drake kick), 2:08
Sol -- C. Simpson 1 run (pass failed), 6:55
First downs 10 7
Rushes-yards 41-153 50-113
Passing yards 16 38
Return yards 10 30
Passing 2-4-1 2-7-2
Punts-avg 0-0.0 4-19.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 3-1
Penalties-yards 10-86 9-100
Rushing -- Homer: Smith 14-58, Roberts 12-46, Ingram 9-34, Todd 2-10, Drake 4-5. Soldotna: C. Simpson 36-91, Laurion 5-11, Foster 7-5, Metteer 1-5, R. Simpson 1-1.
Passing -- Homer: Smith 2-4-1--16. Soldotna: Foster 2-7-2--38.
Receiving -- Homer: Cousins 2-16. Soldotna: Ghormley 1-23, Laurion 1-15.
Missed field goals -- Homer: Drake.
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