Without the use of a working scoreboard at Ed Hollier Field, the Kenai Kardinals had to stay on their toes Saturday afternoon in an all-important Northern Lights Conference bout with the Kodiak Bears.
Ultimately, the Kards proved they didn’t need a clock, as they ran away with a 56-8 rout in claiming their first win of 2014.
“It’s always good to get a win in front of a home crowd, it was tough going away to Juneau and Fairbanks, they’ve got good home crowds,” said senior running back Chase Logan.
Logan teamed up with senior Kyle Foree in doing most of the offensive damage, as each back notched 13 carries. Foree led the way with 142 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and added a 14-yard touchdown reception as well.
“Our line put in a lot of work this week to make sure we’ve got open holes,” Foree said. “I give all the credit to the line.”
The win was a boost to a Kenai team that had lost its first two games of the season, including a tight 7-6 loss last week to Lathrop. Kodiak dropped to 1-2 overall, 1-1 in the conference.
“It’s a monkey off our backs as coaches,” said Kenai coach John Marquez. “We don’t have a scoreboard for no reason, even though we didn’t have one today, but our kids deserved it.”
Kenai used an effective “I” formation offense to rack up 424 offensive yards — including 370 rushing — while holding Kodiak to 56. The Kards scored a touchdown on each of their last six possessions of the game, including the all four in the second half. The Bears punted on eight of their 12 possessions, and scored their only points due to a muffed Kenai punt attempt.
After overnight rains rendered the electrical system running the scoreboard useless, it was up to the onfield referees to keep time. With no realistic way of telling how much time they had to work with, Marquez had his players moving fast.
“It’s tough as a coach because you plan for a two- or three-minute drive with the 24-second clock, and now we don’t see that,” Marquez said. “A lot was put on our kids to get it done. Huddle up and break, and go from there.
“It was a good learning experience, I guess we know we can run a two-minute offense.”
Ultimately, senior quarterback Jace Baker passed for 54 yards, going 3 for 12 with two touchdowns.
Kodiak quarterback Melvin Javier found trouble for much of the day, completing 3 of 6 passes for 8 yards. With linebackers like Andrew Welborn and Zach Koziczkowski in his face, it was easy to see why the aerial attack suffered. Welborn, Koziczkowski, Foree and Logan combined for 33 defensive tackles, with Welborn leading the way with 10 solo tackles.
Jay-Ar Small did most of the offensive work for Kodiak, rushing for 39 yards, while teammate Isagani Galindez carried the ball 12 times for 10 yards.
After Kodiak punted on its opening possession, the Kardinals drove 47 yards on their first drive to score on an 8-yard Foree run, but on their ensuing possession, a bad punt snap bounced its way to the Kenai 1-yard line, where Kodiak quickly set up shop to score its lone touchdown of the day. Galindez carried the ball up the middle from 2 yards out with around four minutes remaining in the first quarter, then successfully converted the two-point play for an 8-7 Kodiak lead.
“We were thinking that adversity is striking so we’re gonna punch them right back in the mouth,” Logan said about the brief deficit that Kenai faced.
The Kards answered back immediately with an eight-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in another Foree touchdown.
From there, the teams traded the ball back and forth on several mistakes. Foree broke free for a 50-yard scamper up the left side to the Kodiak 10-yard line, only to have the ball stripped off him by the Kodiak defense. On the ensuing possession, Javier tossed an interception, which was then followed by a Kenai turnover on downs on the Kodiak 6-yard line.
With just under four minutes left in the half, Baker found his first passing target of the day with a 26-yard strike to Chase Gillies.
After taking a 28-8 lead into halftime, the final two quarters only got better for the Kards, who scored on an 8-yard run from Logan, a 14-yard pass from Baker to Foree, a 2-yard run from Welborn, and a 6-yard carry from Corbin Streiff to add the icing to the cake.
“We looked at it from the start that this was the state championship game for us,” Logan said. “We looked at the middle of the season, this is just as important as the state championship, and we’re gonna look at every game like that now.”
Coach Marquez left the field pleased with not only the final score, but also the means of which his team achieved it.
“We’ve been preaching family all year long, no matter what,” he said. “Some of our guys dropped a few balls, they didn’t break a tackle, guys heads were down. I told them, I’m not gonna stop throwing it to you, I’m not gonna stop handing you the football. You’re gonna end up getting this done, don’t quit on yourself, and we won’t quit on you.”
Kardinals 56, Bears 8
Kenai 14 14 21 7 —56
Kodiak 8 0 0 0 —8
Ken — Foree 8 run (Vest kick)
Kod — Galindez 2 run (Galindez run)
Ken — Foree 8 run (Vest kick)
Ken — Gillies 26 pass from Baker (Vest kick)
Ken — Logan 7 run (Vest kick)
Ken — Logan 8 run (Vest kick)
Ken — Foree 14 pass from Baker (Vest kick)
Ken — Welborn 2 run (Vest kick)
Ken — Streiff 6 run (Vest kick)
Rushing — Kenai: Foree 13-142, Logan 13-130, Welborn 8-25, Streiff 3-12, Tuttle 3-14, Gillies 5-44, Randall 1-3. Kodiak: Small 9-39, Galindez 12-10, Javier 8-(-9), Kionisala 2-4, #23 2-4, Reed 1-0.
Passing — Kenai: Baker 3-12-0—54. Kodiak: Javier 3-6-1—8.