A row of footballs iat the Homer-Seward game at Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

SoHi, Homer, Kenai football drop games

Host Lathrop snapped Soldotna’s 22-game winning streak with a 27-21 nonconference victory Friday night in a matchup of Division II powerhouses.

The Malemutes improved to 2-0, while the Stars dropped to 0-1 after having their Week 1 contest canceled due to COVID-19.

“It was a game marred by mental errors,” Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. “It was hard to get into sync as a play caller. We ended up in a lot of difficult down-and-distance situations to manage.

“It was a lot of correctable stuff. One positive thing to take away is we competed the whole time and have a pretty high ceiling if we correct some of the mental mistakes.”

Two years ago, Soldotna graduated all its starters. Then last year, SoHi got to play just four games and couldn’t leave the peninsula, leaving all the Stars starters never having faced a team like Lathrop.

“It was awesome to be playing again against a very talented opponent,” Brantley Jr. said. “They’re a very good football team and are very well coached.”

Despite being down 27-13 past the midway mark of the fourth quarter, Soldotna managed to come back and make it interesting in a game that saw periodic showers make playing conditions challenging.

Lathrop was driving to attempt to go up three scores, but the Stars recovered a Malemutes fumble on the Soldotna 36-yard line with 9:22 left in the game.

Soldotna drove and cut the gap to 27-21 when Wayne Mellon scored on an 8-yard run, then caught a two-point conversion from Zac Buckbee with 4:13 to play.

The Stars failed to recover the onside kick, but Lathrop coughed up the ball again with 1:48 to play.

Soldotna didn’t take advantage by going four-and-out. Lathrop got the ball back with 1:20 to play, got a first down, and was able to run out the clock.

Brantley Jr. said his team was hit by injuries, losing both outside linebackers, the leading rusher, tight ends and guards.

“It was like a war of attrition,” the coach said. “The kids that stepped in did a phenomenal job of continuing to fight, claw and scratch to the end.”

A fumble also was costly for the Stars in the first half. SoHi got the opening kickoff and fumbled on its first play from scrimmage. Lathrop took advantage when Tyler Clooten scored on a 1-yard run with 9:12 left in the first.

Buckbee came back with a 1-yard scoring run for Soldotna with 5:23 left in the first.

With 5:46 left in the second quarter, Clooten scored on a 10-yard run for a 14-7 game, but SoHi again answered on a 79-yard touchdown run from Gehret Medcoff for a 14-13 game with 5:12 until halftime.

Brantley Jr. said he liked the way Medcoff recovered from losing the fumble to start the game before having to leave early in the second half with an injury.

“He had an outstanding first half with a ton of really good runs,” the coach said. “He gave us a spark early on and showed our big play capability.”

Lathrop quarterback Jarren Littell was able to put his team up 20-13 at halftime with a 2-yard run with 2:36 showing on the clock.

The Malemutes got the ball to open the second half and went up 27-13 when Elijah Deans scored on a 30-yard pass from Littell with 10:04 left in the third.

SoHi then went on a long drive, but came up empty on fourth-and-goal from the 5 with 1:20 left in the third quarter.

North Pole 36, Kenai Central 0

The host Patriots, a Division II team, improved to 2-0 by shutting out the Division III Kardinals. Kenai lost its opener after missing Week 1 due to a positive COVID-19 test in the program.

Kenai coach Dustin Akana said big plays hurt his team all day, starting with the Patriots running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

The Kardinals had just two practices with a full team to prepare for the game due to quarantines.

“Any experience against other teams at this point is a positive,” Akana said. “Players will see what they need to do to open up a big play. A couple of times, we were just one block away.”

Akana also liked the fight his team showed.

“All of our players played in all three phases,” Akana said. “We had few players to sub in and out. Credit to our whole team for continuing to push hard, finish the game and learn from it.”

Chugiak 17, Homer 14, OT

Andrew Neilson kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime to give the Division II Mustangs a nonconference win over Division III Homer on Friday night.

Chugiak improves to 1-1, while Homer falls to 0-2.

While Homer coach Justin Zank was disappointed to see many opportunities to win go unmet, he also was happy with the way his team responded to a 57-0 loss to Eagle River to open the season.

“The guys responded really well this week in practice,” Zank said. “We played with heart and I’ll say we never gave up.

“We overcame so many self-inflicted wounds in the game tonight to give ourselves a chance to win it in overtime.”

Chugiak went up 7-0 in the first quarter on a scoring run from Tyson Billman.

Homer had a big second quarter, with Kian Smith scoring on a 20-yard pass from Carter Tennison and Tennison scoring on a 1-yard run for a 14-7 Homer lead at the half.

After a scoreless third quarter, Justin Tagle scored a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.

With 2:37 to play, Tennison rushed the ball to the half yard line, but fumbled, and Chugiak recovered.

Homer’s defense pinned the Mustangs deep and Dodge Petrosius returned a punt for a touchdown, but it was called off due to penalty.

Zank said those two opportunities, as well as failing to cover a Chugiak kickoff in the fourth quarter, made the loss sting.

On the bright side, Zank said the defense had several goal-line stands and played with a ton of heart.

“There’s a ton to learn from this one,” Zank said. “I’m happy with our growth playing Chugiak to a 3-point game in overtime and forcing them to kick a field goal to win in Week 2. I’m optimistic about what we can do in the weeks leading up to conference play.”

Zank said defensive end and offensive guard Kamdyn Doughty played a great game, never coming off the field and playing hard the entire contest.

Tennison rushed for 105 yards and passed for 70.

Friday

Mustangs 17, Mariners 14, OT

Chugiak 7 0 0 7 3 —17

Homer 0 14 0 0 0 —14

First Quarter

Chu — Billman 1 run (Yeargan kick), 4:04.

Second Quarter

Hom — Smith 20 pass from Tennison (conversion failed)

Hom — Tennison 1 run (Tennison run)

Fourth Quarter

Chu — Tagle 5 rush (Neilson kick)

Overtime

Chu — Neilson 20 field goal

Chu Hom

First downs 18 15

Rushes-yards 52-281 30-123

Passing yards 27 70

Comp-att-int 3-12-1 4-18-2

Punts 5-37.4 4-47.2

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2

Penalties 5-30 7-50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — Chugiak: Tagle 25-99, Henderson 13-69, Yeargan 1-58, Billman 6-37, No. 34 4-10, Marquez-Stevens 3-8. Homer: Tennison 19-105, Petrosius 10-18, Hrenchir 1-0.

Passing — Chugiak: 3-12-1—27. Homer: 4-16-1—70.

Receiving — Chugiak: 1-12, Tagle 1-10, Marquez-Stevens 1-5. Homer: Huffman 2-41, Smith 1-20, Hrenchir 1-9.

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