Long shadows slowly crept across the natural grass at the bottom of the Nikiski High football bowl as Friday evening wore on, but Patrick Perry and the Bulldogs owned the night.
Perry seemed to be everywhere at once as the Bulldogs shut out Voznesenka 33-0 in a Peninsula Conference clash. Nikiski improved to 1-0 in the conference with the victory and 2-2 overall, while Voz dropped to 0-1 and 0-3 overall.
In a dual role masterpiece, Perry caught two touchdowns and ran for another with 181 all-purpose yards, and on defense he intercepted Voznesenka quarterback Azary Reutov twice and recovered a Cougars fumble.
“The conditioning paid off,” Perry said, attributing his performance to his offseason work. “You could see the teams start slowing down, especially in the heat.”
The senior back never lost a beat, however. He picked off Reutov on Voznesenka’s opening drive, then did it again on the Cougars’ second possession, returning it about 50 yards to the 2-yard line. Nikiski signal-caller Ian Johnson finished it off with a quarterback sneak into the end zone for Nikiski’s first points of the day.
“You have to watch the quarterback’s eyes a lot, and make sure your guy isn’t going deeper than you,” Perry said.
Johnson had a big day with three touchdown passes and 227 yards, completing 7 of 10 throws. Perry brought in two of those scoring plays — from 32 and 51 yards out — his only two catches of the day.
Reutov finished 10 for 26 with 59 passing yards and four interceptions. Cougars freshman Zasima Martushev led Voznesenka with 74 rushing yards.
After two losses to start the year, Nikiski now owns two consecutive wins and appears to have righted the ship. The Bulldogs outgained the Cougars 364 to 178 in total offense.
“It feels good,” said Nikiski coach Paul Nelson. “We played a fairly complete game, and the shutout is huge.”
If there was a mark in Nikiski’s armor Friday, it was the first quarter. Both teams played to a scoreless opening 12 minutes, something that Nelson with which Nelson was initially concerned. The Bulldogs were also hit with seven penalties, backing them up 50 yards.
“We wanted to come out and do what we wanted, and it was just a little disheartening,” he said. “After the first quarter, I was expecting a fight.”
Even though the scoreboard looked lopsided, the play wasn’t. Voznesenka managed to move the ball efficiently, but continually shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and missed opportunities. In all, the Cougars suffered five turnovers, with Olsen also picking off Reutov twice.
After Perry’s first interception, Nikiski drained the clock on a long, 15-play drive that included two fourth-down conversions. However, a fumble by junior Tyler Olsen just 8 yards from the end zone spoiled the Bulldogs chances.
“We played all four quarters … well, three of them,” quipped Perry.
Following a fumble by Martushev that Perry recovered, the Bulldogs didn’t take long to strike for their second touchdown. Johnson found Perry streaking downfield for a 32-yard strike and a 14-0 lead on a Matthew Minium run.
On the next Nikiski possession, it took two plays for Johnson to connect with Perry once again on a 51-yard bomb and a 20-0 lead.
In the first half, Voz was intercepted twice, fumbled once and turned the ball over on downs twice. On their final possession of the half, the Cougars made it down to Nikiski’s 35-yard line but a lateral pass from Reutov to Prokohpy Konev was stopped well short of the line.
The second half proved even more frustrating for Voz. After a 42-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Minium pushed Nikiski’s lead to 26-0 early in the third quarter, the Cougars strung together a 12-play drive that went 46 yards and landed Voz at the Nikiski 14. However, it fizzled out after two straight incomplete passes turned it back over to Nikiski.
Perry countered that with a 75-yard rumble on the outside that pushed the lead to 33-0.
The first play of the fourth quarter saw Johnson lose the ball on a quarterback sack, leaving Voz with the ball on Nikiski’s 27-yard line.
A clutch 8-yard gain on fourth down by Martushev kept the drive alive for Voz, but Reutov again couldn’t find his receiver on third and fourth down at the 11, giving the ball back to Nikiski.
In the dying minutes of the game, Reutov came up with Voznesenka’s biggest play of the day, a 37-yard romp up the sideline that put the ball in Bulldogs territory, but it came to naught on an interception by Olsen.
Bulldogs 33, Cougars 0
Voznesenka 0 0 0 0 —0
Nikiski 0 20 13 0 —33
Nik — Johnson 2 run (run failed), 7:02
Nik — Perry 32 pass from Johnson (Minium run), 5:19
Nik — Perry 51 pass from Johnson (run failed), 2:14
Nik — Minium 42 pass from Johnson (kick missed), 9:42
Nik — Perry 75 run (Johnson kick), 2:58
Rushes-yds 27-119 34-137
Pass yds 59 227
Comp-att-int 10-26-4 7-10-0
Return yds 0 58
Punts 1 1
Fumbles 1 4
Penalties-yds 7-45 7-50
Rushing — Nikiski: Perry 5-98, Minium 11-41, Johnson 9-4, Olsen 7-0, Napoka 2-(-6). Voznesenka: Martushev 19-74, Reutov 6-54, Kalugin 1-(-2).
Passing — Nikiski: Johnson 7-10-0—227. Voznesenka: Reutov 10-26-4—59.
Receiving — Nikiski: Perry 2-83, Handley 2-55, Minium 1-42, Napoka 1-32, Hensley 1-15. Vozesenka: Kalugin 6-42, K. Reutov 3-17.