It may have been the Panthers' homecoming, but Skyview High School was Mr. Rogers' neighborhood Saturday afternoon.
Eielson's Nick Rogers ran for a game-high 148 yards on 31 carries to lead the undefeated Ravens to a 27-6 nonconference victory in Skyview's final home game of the season.
Skyview's Eddie Buffington scored the Panthers' lone touchdown. Buffington led the Panthers with 76 rushing yards on 12 carries, despite having minus-19 yards in the first two quarters. Gregor Bosick added 66 rushing yards for the Panthers, who were held to just 182 yards of offense on the day by Eielson, which came into the game as the state's top-ranked small-schools team in the most recent coaches poll.
Ravens head coach David DeVaughn said after the game that he was proud of how Rogers stepped up his game in the absence of Nick Scales, the team's leading rusher who left the team last week to join his family Outside. Scales' family lives in Louisiana and his parents asked the Air Force for a transfer from Eielson to be closer to home.
"We kind of had a new look out there, and the players had to respond," he said.
Eielson jumped out to an early lead when fullback Josh McDonald rumbled in from 18 yards out late in the first quarter to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
Skyview hurt itself on its second drive of the second quarter, fumbling on its own 12-yard line to set up Eielson's second score of the game a touchdown the Panthers nearly thwarted.
The Ravens drove to the Panther 1-yard line, but Skyview's defense held on first and second down. On third down, the Panthers stopped Eielson's Travis Pew in the backfield, but Pew fumbled the ball directly to Marshall Horseman, who scampered in for a very fortunate touchdown.
"We just have a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot," Skyview head coach Phil Sheridan said following the game. "That's tough to do against a team like Eielson."
Eddie Buffington cut the Ravens' lead to one score midway through the third quarter with a great individual effort. First, the sophomore tailback cut up the middle for a 44-yard carry. Then on the next play, he busted through the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle and wove his way through the defense for a 19-yard scoring run.
Buffington's effort was erased quickly, however, when Rogers went 54 yards on Eielson's next play from scrimmage. Although Shane Strausbaugh made a great effort to track down the speedy tailback, Rogers found the end zone four plays later to give his team a 20-6 advantage.
From that point on it was all Eielson, as the Ravens were able to chew up big chunks of the clock with their steady running game.
Skyview was hurt by turnovers and costly penalties that kept them from getting back into the game something that's cost the Panthers all season.
"We just made too many mental mistakes," Eddie Buffington said. "I felt like we were driving and stopping them on defense, but our teamwork was not good."
McDonald added his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter to give Eielson its final margin of victory.
The trip to the peninsula was the first this season for Eielson, a team that has faced questionable competition at times this season playing in the Great Land Conference. Rogers said his team knew coming in they'd have to play well to beat Skyview, and didn't take the Panthers lightly.
"All the NLC teams are good teams," Rogers said. "We had to prepare to play a good game."
Rogers said the loss of Scales hurt his squad, but he believes the Ravens showed Saturday they're much more than a one-player team.
"We're a team unit," he said. "Nick was a big part of our team, but everyone is going to do their part."
Next up for the Panthers is a season-ending clash with Homer, which needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Skyview has a chance to play spoilers in that game, and Eddie Buffington said Saturday's loss showed the Panthers what they need to do to put another notch in the win column.
"If we keep our focus and limit our mental mistakes we'll have a chance," he said.
Ravens 27, Panthers 6
Eielson 7 7 6 7 27
Skyview 0 0 6 0 6
Eie McDonald 18 run (Broussard kick), 4:26
Eie Horseman 1 run (Broussard kick), 7:40
Sky E. Buffington 19 run (kick failed), 7:39
Eie Rogers 1 run (kick blocked), 5:19
Eie McDonald 1 run (Broussard kick), 7:25
First downs 10 7
Rushes-yards 54-238 34-182
Passing yards 16 0
Return yards 0 0
Passing 1-3-0 0-2-0
Punts-avg 2-42.0 3-27.3
Fumbles-lost 4-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 8-56 6-30
Rushing Skyview: E. Buffington 12-76, Bosick 9-69, C. Buffington 8-29, Strasbaugh 4-7, Grimes 1-1. Eielson: Rogers 31-148, McDonald 8-45, Pew 7-41, Horn 1-5, No. 6 1-3, Horseman 1-1, Nixon 5-(-5).
Passing Skyview: Strasbaugh 0-2-0-0. Eielson: Nixon 1-3-0-16. (comp, att, int, yards).
Receiving Eielson: Pew 1-16.
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