Kenai Central quarterback Bridger Beck throws under pressure from Houston’s Keldin Nicoll on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central quarterback Bridger Beck throws under pressure from Houston’s Keldin Nicoll on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Houston gets 1st victory in program history at Kenai

The scary thing for the rest of Division III is the Kenai Central football team did very little to hurt itself Saturday in a homecoming game at Ed Hollier Field and still lost 40-6 to Houston.

The Hawks continued to roll up dominant wins in moving to 3-0 in the Mid Alaska Conference and 6-0 overall. The Kardinals fall to 1-2 in the league and 4-3 overall.

The Kardinals didn’t commit a turnover and forced the Hawks to put the ball on the ground four times. Kenai also committed just three penalties for 25 yards and scored the first touchdown on Houston this season.

Houston, which started playing football in 1997, still was able to comfortably come away with the first win at Ed Hollier Field in program history.

“There’s not many weaknesses there, but there are a couple seams that might be opened up in the future,” Kenai head coach Jake Brand said. “I do think it was probably the hardest hitting game we’ve played and I don’t know if the scoreboard really reflects that.

“But I was proud of our defense for as undersized as they were against Houston.”

The Hawks dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Houston rushed 51 times for 418 yards and held the Kardinals to 15 yards on 29 attempts. Mark Kudryn spearheaded the Houston attack with 18 rushes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’ve coached for this team for 18 years and no, I’ve never won on this field,” Houston co-head coach Jared Barrett said. “So this is a great feeling tonight. A great, great feeling today. It’s full circle.”

The Hawks scored on three of their five drives in the first half, getting scoring runs from Kudryn, Noah Whitted and Trenton Hawes to take a 21-0 lead at the break. The only time Houston was stopped was when Bridger Beck forced a fumble that Carnell Gump recovered, and when Beck intercepted a desperation pass near the end of the half.

The Hawks then scored on three of four drives in the second half, with the only failed drive coming on a kneeldown at the end of the game. Kudryn and Keldin Nicoll had scoring runs, while Hayden Howard caught a scoring pass from Carter Seime.

“We love running the ball,” Houston co-coach Charles Whittington said. “If you can run the ball in late October, that’s great.

“We have an emphasis on sportsmanship and attitude. We always tell our kids alignment, assignment, do your job. If you do those three things, good things are going to happen to the finish.”

The only crack in the offense came with the four fumbles, though Houston was fortunate to recover three.

“That’s something that we’re going to take care of — ball security,” Whittington said. “That’s something that’s stressed. And trust me, all next week, ball security drills, all day long. Especially on offensive days.”

On defense, Houston bottled up the run and was able to put constant pressure on quarterback Beck.

“We believe we did a great job of stopping the run today,” Barrett said. “They got a few passes on us, and we knew they had a great passing game.”

Beck finished with 18 rushes for a yard and 7 of 15 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown to Wade James. Considering the constant pressure, the stats were more impressive than they look on paper.

“Last year in Houston, when we played this game, he was getting lit up,” Brand said of Beck. “He had blood in his mouth. For him to take a couple shots, not get scared or intimidated, stay in there and put some points on the board late in the game, I thought that was really brave of him.”

Brand said nobody likes to lose a homecoming game, but there were definitely positives for Kenai.

“I just thought as a team, they held their heads really, really high,” he said. “They picked everybody up as a unit. Nobody pointed fingers.

“It’s one of those games where you can be proud of the kids even though the scoreboard is pretty lopsided.”

Both Barrett and Whittington said players like defensive tackle and center Josiah Bowman, defensive end Nicoll and middle linebacker Hawes were the reason the Hawks were able to dominate the line of scrimmage.

“Overall, we always tell them it’s a team effort,” Barrett said. “People are going to stand out, but everybody plays for the team.”

Whittington said the seven coaches working together are a part of that team, and he also thanked a nice group of fans for coming down to support the team.

Saturday

Hawks 40, Kardinals 6

Houston 7 14 6 13 —40

Kenai 0 0 0 6 —6

1st Quarter

Hou — Kudryn 2 run (Whitted kick), 6:22.

2nd Quarter

Hou — Hawes 5 run (Whitted kick), 8:02.

Hou — Whitted 2 run (Whitted kick), 1:33.

3rd Quarter

Hou — Kudryn 26 run (kick failed), 6:44.

4th Quarter

Hou — Nicoll 10 run (Whitted kick), 8:00.

Ken — James 10 pass from Beck (kick failed), 5:49.

Hou — Howard 28 pass from Seime (pass failed), 2:56.

Hou Ken

First downs 20 11

Rushing 51-418 29-15

Passing 40 112

Comp-att-int 4-7-1 7-15-0

Return yds 17 0

Punts 0 6-28.8

Fumbles 4-1 0-0

Penalties 4-41 3-25

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing — Houston: Kudryn 18-214, Hawes 12-81, Hina 10-49, Whitted 5-51, Seime 4-15, Nicoll 2-8 Kenai: Wilson 8-6, Beck 18-1, Whicker 1-1, Perez 2-7.

Passing — Houston: Seime 4-7-1—40. Kenai: Beck 7-15-0—112.

Receiving — Houston: Nicoll 2-6, Howard 2-34. Kenai: Armstrong 4-47, James 3-65.

Palmer JV 16, Seward 8, 2 OT

The Moose junior varsity picked up a nonconference win in Seward on Saturday.

The Seahawks are now 1-5 overall, but still have a chance to make the Division III playoffs by defeating Nikiski in Week 8.

Brett Gilmore scored for Seward on a run, while Noah Price had the two-point conversion.

Kenai Central receiver Wade James catches a touchdown over Houston’s Hunter Craig on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central receiver Wade James catches a touchdown over Houston’s Hunter Craig on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Houston’s Mark Kudryn takes on a tackle from Kenai Central’s Owen Whicker on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Houston’s Mark Kudryn takes on a tackle from Kenai Central’s Owen Whicker on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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