The Nikiski High School football team wound up on the wrong end of a 27-2 score Saturday, dropping their regular-season finale to Great Land Conference foe Seward.
The loss was doubly heartbreaking for the Bulldogs, who entered the game in first place in the conference with a 3-0 mark. The loss drops the Bulldogs into a three-way tie for first in the GLC, and under the tiebreak rules, eliminates the Bulldogs from the postseason.
Houston, a 41-12 winner over Anchorage Christian Schools Friday, Seward and Nikiski each finish GLC play with a 3-1 record, and head-to-head play doesn't eliminate any team. Therefore, the Hawks secure the top spot in the GLC by virtue of a nonleague victory over Homer -- both Seward and Nikiski lost to the Mariners. The tiebreak formula then reverts to step one, head to head, eliminating the Bulldogs after Saturday's loss.
The Seahawks will meet Northern Lights Conference champion Soldotna next weekend while the Hawks will host Kenai.
It is the first time in five years a team other than the Bulldogs has been the GLC champion. Nikiski won three straight Great Land Conference championship games from 1997 through 1999, then took back-to-back small-schools state titles in 2000 and 2001 after the Alaska School Activities Association sanctioned a small-schools football tournament.
The Seahawks were able to keep the ball moving on the ground Saturday, putting up 211 rushing yards to the Bulldogs' 90. Josh Winters led the Bulldogs' effort, rushing for 73 yards on 16 carries, completing a pair of passes for 40 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards.
Cody Gilmore put the Seahawks on the board in the first quarter with a 2-yard run, and Bart Elhard opened the second quarter with a 24-yard pass from Jonah Swiderski.
Nikiski's only points came on a safety in the second quarter.
Seward added touchdowns in the third quarter on a 30-yard run by Gilmore and a 4-yard run by Jake Wilder. Coty Beck connected on 3-of-4 extra points.
SEAHAWKS 27, BULLDOGS 2
Nikiski 0 2 0 0 -- 2
Seward 7 7 13 0 -- 27
Sew -- Gilmore 2 run (Beck kick), 8:06
Sew -- B. Elhard 24 pass from J. Swiderski (Beck kick), 11:52
Nik -- Safety, 1:57
Sew -- Gilmore 30 run (conversion failed), 7:45
Sew -- Wilder 4 run (Beck kick), 1:53
Rushes-yards 28-90 47-211
Passing yards 87 50
Return yards 75 4
Passing 7-22-4 3-10-1
Rushing -- Nikiski: Winters 16-73, McIrvin 3-27, McCaughey 4-10, Grimm 1-1, Schwenke 1-0. Anderson 1-0, McGahan 2-(-11). Seward: Gilmore 16-117, Wilder 17-86, Conlin 7-16, J. Swiderski 7-(-8).
Passing -- Nikiski: McGahan 3-14-2--34, Winters 2-2-0--40, Womack 1-4-1--13, McCaughey 0-1-0--0. Seward: J. Swiderski 3-9-1--50, Wilder 0-1-0--0.
Receiving -- Nikiski: Anderson 2-35, Winters 2-11, Gerke 1-20, McIrvin 1-4, Womack 1-(-3). Seward: Janson 5-68, Burck 1-0, Jackson 1-(-5).
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