The Lathrop Malemutes saw 50 reasons why the Soldotna Stars entered this high school football season with a state-record 59-game winning streak and own the seven of the last eight Division II state championships.
The host Malemutes enjoyed a 7-6 lead in the second quarter before the Stars ran away for a 50-21 win on a rainy Friday night.
Hudson Metcalf’s 3-yard burst up the middle of the field gave Soldotna a 6-0 lead with 7:42 left in the first quarter.
Eight seconds into the second quarter, Malemutes quarterback Jaden Littell responded with a 45-yard pass to Michael Zadra on a fade-slot pattern to even the score. Juan Mendez’s point-after kick made it 7-6 for Lathrop.
Soldotna, with 6:03 left in the second quarter, was buried at its 1-yard line after a 42-yard line-drive punt by Lathrop’s Deondric Henderson.
The Stars didn’t fret, however. Seven plays later, Soldotna quarterback Jersey Truesdell sprinted 73 yards into the end zone to put the visitors up 12-7 and for good.
The Stars often employ a puzzling variation of a wing-T offense. But with 2.2 seconds left in the opening half, Soldotna flashed some aerial trickery.
With third-and-five from the Stars 45-yard line, Truesdell ran forward and pitched the ball back to Galen Brantley III, who threw a 55-yard pass to a leaping Metcalf, who snagged the ball and scampered into the end zone. Wyatt Medcoff’s 2-point conversion run sent Soldotna into the locker room with a 20-7 advantage on the scoreboard.
Truesdell stretched the lead to 26-7 with a 19-yard burst with 10:24 left in the third quarter.
Lathrop returned to the scoreboard with 5:07 left in the third after a scrambling Littell lobbed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Bubba Maschmeier to make it 26-13.
Soldotna needed just 56 seconds into the fourth quarter to pull ahead 34-14. Medcoff did the honors with a 10-yard touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion run.
The Stars rushed to a 42-14 lead with Cy Updike’s 10-yard dash and Truesdell’s 2-point conversion pass to Chris Jaime with 7:29 left in the game.
Medcoff visited the end zone for the third time, courtesy of a 4-yard trip with 5:51 left. Updike ran in the 2-point conversion for the Stars’ final points of the night.
Littell and Maschmeyer hooked up on a 9-yard pass play for Lathrop’s last TD and Mendez split the uprights on the point-after kick with 2:12 left in the game.
Truesdell led all rushers with 134 yards on eight carries.
Though he didn’t enter the end zone, Soldotna teammate Aaron Faletoi contributed 15 carries for 117 yards. 105 of his bruising yards came in the first half.
Maschmeyer led the Malemutes with 54 yards on 18 carries.
Lathrop, of the Railbelt Conference and in its first season in Division II, slipped to 2-1, the same record as Soldotna, of the Northern Lights Conference.