Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Kardinals' Chase Logan tackles Soldotna Stars' Drew Gibbs, Saturday, October 4, 2014, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Kardinals' Chase Logan tackles Soldotna Stars' Drew Gibbs, Saturday, October 4, 2014, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Soldotna football holds off Kenai

  • By Wesley Remmer
  • Sunday, October 5, 2014 12:03am
  • Sports

Drew Gibbs made plays with his feet the entire game.

He made a play with his hands to end the game.

The Soldotna junior intercepted a Kyle Foree pass in the end zone on the final play of a 21-14 victory over rival Kenai Central on Saturday at Justin Maile Field, lifting SoHi to its 27th-consective victory and a ninth-straight Northern Lights Conference championship. The Stars finish 7-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play, while Kenai Central goes to 3-4 and 2-1.

“Right place at the right time,” Gibbs said of the final play. “Luckily I was able to make the catch.”

After forcing a Stars three-and-out and getting a 22-yard return from Chase Gillies on a short punt, the Kardinals took over at the SoHi 11-yard line with 23 seconds remaining.

A 2-yard run on first down and a spike to stop the clock on second gave the Kards a final play with five seconds to play at the Stars’ 9-yard-line.

Foree, who replaced starting quarterback Jace Baker after Baker left with an injury in the second half, took the final snap from shotgun with an empty backfield and slung the ball toward the end zone, where Gibbs was the first to it.

“We knew they were going to pass,” said Gibbs, who finished with 82 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. “I just dropped back and there it was.”

The final drive wasn’t the Kards’ only chance to tie the game in the fourth.

On their previous possession, they drove 79 yards on 14 plays — all runs — only to turn the ball over on downs at the Stars’ 1-yard line after Foree was stuffed on a fourth-down quarterback keeper from the 1.

For the Stars, the two-time medium-schools state champions, it was the biggest test of the season. Kenai Central held the ball for more than 50 plays and led much of the way.

It was the ninth straight regular-season victory for SoHi over Kenai Central.

“I couldn’t be happier with their effort,” SoHi coach Galen Brantley Jr. said of his players. “They battled all game and kept working, and found a way to pull it out.”

Kenai Central, a physical team with a run-first attitude, set the tone on the opening drive when it marched 65 yards on 16 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard plunge by Foree.

It wasn’t until the nine-minute mark of the second quarter when the Stars struck, using a 3-yard Ty Fenton run to pull within 7-6.

The Kards took a 14-6 lead into halftime after Baker hit Gillies in stride over the middle for a 31-yard touchdown pass inside the final minute of the second.

Although that proved to be the Kards’ final points, coach John Marquez praised his team’s performance.

“That’s the type of game made for the movies,” he said. “It’s wonderful for the fans, it’s wonderful for the kids — our guys fought the whole way.”

The Stars tied it at 14 with 4:21 to play in the third on a 5-yard Fenton run before taking the lead for good early in the fourth on a 7-yard Gibbs run.

Brantley Jr. praised the effort of his offensive line, especially junior Sage Hill and senior Dylan Schultz, both of whom stepped in for injured players.

Hill, Schultz and Co. helped the Stars eclipse 200 yards rushing led by Gibbs’ 82, 67 from Fenton and another 52 from Bailey Blumentritt.

For the Kards, Chase Logan led the way with 93 yards on 22 carries. Foree finished with 25, while Andrew Welborn added 39 on nine attempts.

Now it’s on to the playoffs for both teams. SoHi enters as a No. 1 seed and will face Juneau-Douglas. Kenai Central enters as a No. 2 seed and faces North Pole. Both games are Saturday in Anchorage.

Marquez likes his team’s chances.

“Don’t let our record fool you,” he said. “We are a legitimate threat. The guys turned the page today, and I think we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Stars 21, Kardinals 14

Kenai 7 7 0 0 –14

Soldotna 0 6 8 7 –21

1st Quarter

Ken – Foree 2 run (kick good), 3:34

2nd Quarter

Sol – Fenton 3 run (run failed), 9:13

Ken – Gillies 31 pass from Baker (kick good), :55

3rd Quarter

Sol – Fenton 5 run (run good), 2:28

4th Quarter

Sol – Gibbs 5 run (kick good), 10:48

Kenai Soldotna

First downs 8 10

Rushes-yards 43-175 47-212

Passing yards 51 45

Comp-att-int 3-9-1 4-6-0

Return yards 72 34

Punts 4 2

Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2

Penalties-yards 6-31 3-20

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing – Kenai: Welborn 9-39, Logan 21-93, Foree 8-25, Baker 5-18. Soldotna: Fenton 14-67, Gibbs 22-82, Blumentritt 9-52, Furlong 2-11.

Passing – Kenai: Baker 3-8-0-51, Foree 0-1-1-0. Soldotna: Furlong 4-6-0-45.

Receiving – Kenai: Gillies 3-51 Soldotna: Waldon 1-14, Gibbs 1-4, Duke 1-11, Blumentritt 1-16.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Kardinals' Jace Baker has control of the ball and starts to sprint down the field, Saturday, October 4, 2014, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Kardinals’ Jace Baker has control of the ball and starts to sprint down the field, Saturday, October 4, 2014, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

More in Sports

Soldotna's Wayne Mellon works to a pin of Kenai Central's Zoticus Active at 189 pounds in a dual meet at Soldotna High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi wrestling honors seniors in matchup with Kenai

Thanksgiving weekend gives many the opportunity to see family. The holiday gave… Continue reading

tease
Strausbaugh, Hippchen take Turkey Skate

Soldotna hosted Kenai Central for the Turkey Skate at Tsalteshi Trails on… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Sawyer Vann controls Nikiski's Wyatt Maguire at 125 pounds Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. Vann notched a 7-6 victory. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area wrestlers collect mat time before Thanksgiving break

Area wrestlers got in some mat time Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break.… Continue reading

Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears start search for new head coach

The Kenai River Brown Bears issued a press release Friday about staff… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean tries to find a way through the defense of the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues during a first-period power play Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Jr. Blues come back to take series from Bears

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues lost not only a 2020-21 season to… Continue reading

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

tease
Hockey roundup: SoHi sweeps in Kodiak; West wins End of Road tourney

The Soldotna hockey team swept Kodiak in the first high school games… Continue reading

A brown bear feeds on a salmon. (Photo by C. Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Bears, uniquely built to respond to winter

With the new snow and temperatures dipping into the single digits, you… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Caden Warren surveys the ice against West at the End of the Road Tournament at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Kenai, Homer hockey lose to open tourney

The Kenai Central and Homer hockey teams both opened the End of… Continue reading

Caden Triggs of the Kenai River Brown Bears celebrates his first-period goal against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topple Jr. Blues

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears received two… Continue reading

Michael proposes to Sarah at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Falling in love one snowflake at a time

Do you want to know what I’ve been looking forward to the… Continue reading