The Soldotna football team topped Service 48-34 at Justin Maile Field on Friday as the Stars’ first home game of the season came on Week 4.
SoHi, a Division II team, improved to 2-1 overall by taking a 20-0 lead after the first quarter against the Cougars, a Division I school now 1-3 overall.
Soldotna forced Service into a three-and-out to start the game, then Gehret Medcoff scored the first of four touchdowns with a 13-yard run. SoHi then recovered an onside kick and cashed in on a Wayne Mellon 14-yard run.
Service put together its first good drive of the game only to turn the ball over on downs at the SoHi 15-yard line. The next play, Medcoff ran 85 yards for a score and suddenly it was 20-0 with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
“I felt like we definitely got out of the gates really well,” SoHi coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. “Everything for us is about improvement and fixing as much of the little stuff as we can so that we’re playing the best football we can come October.”
Medcoff ended up rushing for 231 yards on 25 carries by sticking to the basics.
“I mean, my job’s just to run through a hole,” the sophomore said.
He said getting back on SoHi’s field for the first time this season felt great. The Stars had a Week 1 home game against West Valley canceled due to COVID issues in the Wolfpack program.
“(We’re) coming out here, having a good time,” Medcoff said. “The opposing team was really good too, they put up a good fight.”
The Cougars came back in the second quarter with two touchdowns from Julius Reape, who would rush for 136 yards and three touchdowns, to cut the deficit to 20-12 with 8:18 left until halftime.
The Stars answered with a 17-yard touchdown run from quarterback Brayden Taylor and a 17-yard scoring run from Medcoff for a 34-12 lead at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Brock Wilson, who ran for 111 yards, and Medcoff had touchdowns sandwiching another Reape scoring run for a 48-18 lead.
The Cougars then closed fast with quarterback Coen Niclai throwing touchdowns to Justin Poston and Ethan Hopper, and Kedrick Smith-Thomas notching a safety. All that came in just over two minutes to tighten up the final score. Niclai was 22 of 44 for 255 yards at the helm of Service’s spread attack.
“The breakdown, I think, was in our conditioning,” Brantley Jr. said. “They were NASCAR, no huddle. Our conditioning kind of broke down and then we started making a few mistakes and let them get a couple touchdowns back.”
Brantley Jr. said the Stars, who had 454 yards rushing on 59 carries, are looking better and better on offense as players get more experience.
“Gehret had another big game, I thought he played really well,” Brantley Jr. said. “Dylan Dahlgren on the offensive side did a great job blocking.”
Brantley Jr. also said he thought junior Joe Whittom played well defensively on Service’s run game early.
After missing the Week 1 game, Brantley Jr. said he was excited to be back on home turf. He said in the last year he’s learned that while adults focus on the process, and winning games and titles, for the players the game can mean something different.
“Kids are more relentless than adults,” he said. “I think we learned that a year ago, when we kind of got trapped on the peninsula. The most important thing for them was just the opportunity to put the pads on and actually play the game.”
Reach reporter Camille Botello at email@example.com.
Stars 42, Cougars 34
Soldotna 20 14 0 14 —42
Service 0 12 0 22 —34
Sol — Medcoff 13 run (Buckbee kick), 7:22.
Sol — Mellon 14 run (Buckbee kick), 4:47.
Sol — Medcoff 85 run (kick failed), 1:32.
Ser — Reape 15 run (conversion failed), 11:02.
Ser — Reape 16 run (conversion failed), 8:18.
Sol — Taylor 17 run (Buckbee kick), 5:24.
Sol — Medcoff 17 run (Buckbee kick), 0:40.
Sol — Wilson 5 run (Buckbee kick), 10:35.
Ser — Reape 15 run (conversion failed), 9:01.
Sol — Medcoff 5 run (Buckbee kick).
Ser — Poston 3 pass from Niclai (Reape run), 2:03.
Ser — Smith-Thomas, safety, 1:19.
Ser — Hopper 45 pass from Niclai (conversion failed), 0:44.
First downs 21 19
Rushes-yards 59-454 31-194
Passing yards 30 255
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-1 22-44-2
Return yards 56 60
Punts 1-27.0 2-38.5
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties 7-50 4-35
Rushing — Service: Reape 19-136, O’Farrell 5-38, Smith-Thomas 4-14, Potson 1-6, Niclai 2-0. Soldotna: Medcoff 25-231, Wilson 18-111, Mellon 6-67, Taylor 3-31, Buckbee 5-10, Faircloth 1-4.
Passing — Service: Niclai 22-44-2—255; Soldotna: Buckbee 2-3-0—30, Taylor 0-2-1—0.