The Soldotna Stars had no trouble staying in a first-place tie atop the Northern Lights Conference Saturday, routing the Kodiak Bears 59-14 in Kodiak.
Soldotna's Garrett Gardner was able to run for 268 yards and five touchdowns despite conditions that SoHi head coach Sarge Truesdell described as "a total monsoon."
"It's been raining every second since we got here," Truesdell said following the game.
Despite the poor conditions, Truesdell's team fumbled just twice, recovering the ball on both occasions. Behind Gardner's running and a solid passing attack, the Stars racked up 520 yards of total offense against the Bears, who fell to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the NLC.
Gardner now has 1,010 yards on the season, joining Kenai's Dakota Craig and North Pole's Perry Monzulla as the only rushers in the state to top the 1,000-yard mark this season.
With the win, Soldotna stayed unbeaten in the NLC, clinched a playoff berth and set up a showdown for the conference title with 3-0 Kenai next Saturday at Soldotna.
Truesdell said he's happy with the way the Stars are playing late in the season.
"We've been firing on all cylinders throughout the year, and hopefully we're playing our best right now," he said.
Truesdell said the Stars will have to continue to play solid to have a chance at stopping Kenai's powerful rushing attack, which put up 498 rushing yards Saturday against Skyview.
"I don't know if we'll have anything to stop their running game," he said. "They're big and tough and we're just going to have to figure out something."
One way the Stars could have an advantage over Kenai is through the air. Soldotna quarterback Cameron Schneider had a big day Saturday, connecting on seven of his 13 pass attempts for 126 yards and four touchdowns. Reciever Alecks Pfaffe was the recipient of five of those throws, including touchdowns of 17 and 13 yards. Pfaffe became the peninsula's leading reciever on the season, finishing the day with five catches for 73 yards.
"We really threw the ball well today," Truesdell said of his team's passing attack.
Stars 59, Bears 14
Soldotna 20 19 14 6 59
Kodiak 0 0 6 8 14
Sol G. Gardner 10 run (run failed)
Sol G. Gardner 7 run (Asimakopoulos kick)
Sol Seggerman 33 pass from Schneider (Assimakopoulos kick)
Sol Wilbanks 20 pass from Schneider (kick blocked)
Sol Pfaffe 17 pass from Schneider (pass failed)
Sol G. Gardner 40 run (Asimakopoulos kick)
Sol G. Gardner 10 run (Asimakopoulos kick)
Sol G. Gardner 30 run (Asimakopoulos kick)
Kod Doctolero run (kick failed)
Sol Pfaffe 13 pass from Schneider (kick failed)
Kod Valdez 20 pass from QB (Valdez run)
Rushing Soldotna: G. Gardner 24-268, Reed 10-81, Cameron 2-28, Goracke 3-11, Schneider 2-6.
Passing Soldotna: Schneider 7-13-0-126.
Receiving Soldotna: Pfaffe 5-73, Seggerman 1-33, Wilbanks 1-20.
(Kodiak individual statistics unavailible)
Houston 20, Nikiski 14
Houston held on for a 20-14 Great Land Conference win Saturday in snowy conditions at Houston.
The Bulldogs had an opportunity to tie or win late in the game, but saw their drive stall in Houston territory when running back Justin Tumbaga was stopped just short of a first down with less than two minutes to play.
The game was played in a snowstorm, which Nikiski head coach Ned Clooten said did a lot to hurt his team, which relies on speed and quickness on offense.
"Our speed was pretty much neutralized with six inches of snow on the field," Clooten said.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 3-2 in GLC play this season, while Houston improved to 3-2 in the conference. Both teams are still alive in the playoff race, although Seward is in the driver's seat for the final conference berth in the state small-schools playoffs. If the Seahawks beat Nikiski next weekend in Seward, Seward will wrap up second place in the conference behind Eielson.
If Nikiski beats Seward, the Bulldogs and Seahawks will be tied. Houston can also tie for second with a win next week against Valdez, which lost 54-0 Saturday to Eielson. If that happens, the berth would be decided by a coin toss.
Homer 6, Seward 3
Homer's Jason West scored the lone touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run in the third quarter to give the Mariners a 6-3 win in non conference football action Saturday in Homer.
West finished the game with a team-high 50 yards on 18 carries.
Neither team could get much going in the wet, windy conditions, combining for just 259 yards of total offense in the game.
Particularly hurt by the weather was the passing game. Coming in, Homer and Seward featured the peninsula's top two passers in Homer's Canyon McKinstry and Seward's Coty Beck. In the nasty weather, however, neither signal caller was able to get things going. Beck finished just 3-for-15 for 39 yards and two interceptions, while McKinstry wasn't much better, completing just three of his 11 pass attempts for 33 yards and an interception.
Seward's lone score came on a 28-yard Beck field goal in the first quarter. Seward running back Jake Wilder was the game's leading rusher with 51 yards on 17 carries.
With the win, Homer improved to 4-3 overall on the year, while the Seahawks fell to 5-2. The Mariners were eliminated from playoff contention in the Northern Lights Conference last week with a loss to Kenai. Seward is still in control of its own playoff destiny, however, needing a win next week at home to clinch second-place in the Great Land Conference.
Mariners 6, Seahawks 3
Homer 0 0 6 0 6
Seward 3 0 0 0 3
Sew Beck 28 field goal, 7:44
Hom West 5 run (kick blocked), 4:10
First downs 11 7
Rushes-yards 40-122 24-65
Passing yards 33 39
Return yards 11 13
Passing 3-11-1 3-15-2
Punts-avg 5-31.2 5-28.6
Fumbles-lost 5-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 10-80 9-70
Rushing Homer: West 18-50, McWilliams 10-41, McKinstry 7-31, Ca. Hagen 3-17, Smith 1-4, Co. Hagen 1-(-1). Seward: Wilder 17-51, Beck 2-10, Weber 4-14, Rininger 1-1.
Passing Homer: McKinstry 3-11-1-33. Seward: Beck 3-15-3-39.
Receiving Homer: Moffet 1-22, Smith 1-10, McWilliams 1-1. Seward: Weber 2-17, Rininger 1-22.
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