Eielson defeated Homer 21-20 Saturday in the semifinals of the small-schools playoffs at Buck Nystrom Field on Eielson Air Force Base.
With the victory, the Ravens advance to the small-schools state championship game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Anchorage Football Stadium against Kenai Central.
Homer led 20-7 at the half, but Eielson came back to take the lead on a pair of rushing touchdowns by Nick Rogers in the second half. Rogers had three touchdowns and 146 rushing yards in the game.
Rogers tied the game at 20 with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run. Matt Broussard then added the crucial extra point.
Homer then used a 16-play drive to get within striking distance, but Eielson's Stan Nixon intercepted a pass by Canyon McKinstry with 48 seconds left in the game.
"This is the first time we've ever made the playoffs and I'm very proud of the boys for making a game of it," Homer coach Kelly Blake told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "In the second half, Eielson made some adjustments and we just made a few mistakes at bad times."
Homer got off to a great start by putting 13 points on the board in the first 4 minutes, 10 seconds, of the game.
The Mariners used a trick play on their first offensive snap, allowing Luke Gilbert to throw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Justin Smith. However, Eielson blocked the extra-point attempt a block that would be the difference in the game.
Homer then recovered a fumble on the Eielson 19-yard line, then McKinstry scored three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run.
After Eielson cut the lead to 13-7, a bad snap on an Eielson punt set up the Mariners at the Eielson 25 in the second quarter. In three plays, McKinstry had scored on another 1-yard run.
The Eielson defense stiffened in the second half. Homer running back Camron Hagen had 95 yards on 10 carries in the first half and minus 1 yard on eight carries in the second half.
RAVENS 21, MARINERS 20
Homer 13 7 0 0 20
Eielson 7 0 7 7 21
Hom Smith 49 pass from Gilbert (kick blocked), 8:39
Hom McKinstry 1 run (Andrews kick), 7:50
Eie Rogers 3 run (Broussard kick), 3:42
Hom McKinstry 1 run (Andrews kick), 8:35
Eie Rogers 20 run (Broussard kick), 7:17
Eie Rogers 1 run (Broussard kick), 9:03
First downs 12 12
Rushes-yards 29-116 51-185
Passing yards 132 84
Passing 8-18-2 4-10-1
Return yards 73 55
Punts-avg. 2-15 3-24
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 10-38 7-57
Rushing Homer: McKinstry 7-5, Hagen 18-94, Smith 1-(-6), Verbugt 1-0, McWilliams 2-18. Eielson: Rogers 33-146, Wright 10-25, Renfro 4-(-4), Pew 1-15.
Passing Homer: McKinstry 7-18-2-83, Gilbert 1-2-0-49. Eielson: Renfro 4-10-1-84.
Receiving Homer: Smith 4-84, Gilbert 1-19, Hagen 3-15, Kinney 1-14. Eielson: Pew 4-84.
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