Soldotna defensive back Sam McElroy wraps up Kodiak running back Kaleb Finley Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna defensive back Sam McElroy wraps up Kodiak running back Kaleb Finley Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Stars roll through Kodiak on homecoming weekend

Even as the Kodiak Bears showed some moxie against the now 6-0 Soldotna Stars Saturday afternoon by moving the ball with efficiency, SoHi showed it still had some tricks up its sleeve.

That much was evident on a 59-yard highlight-reel rumble by sophomore Aaron Faletoi in the first quarter that set the Stars up for a touchdown and set the tone for the the day.

“That was like a Marshawn Lynch in the playoffs run,” exclaimed SoHi head coach Galen Brantley Jr.

The big play fueled the Stars to a 44-7 Northern Lights Conference win on a blustery day at Justin Maile Field, extending their state record win streak to 55 games.

Faletoi finished with 102 rushing yards, senior running back Brenner Furlong pumped in 167 yards and two touchdowns, and Brandon Crowder threw a pair of touchdown passes to cap a 6-for-13 day.

Overall, SoHi mustered up 462 yards of offense.

Kodiak showed offensive gusto against the five-time defending Division II state champions with 224 yards, but mistakes cost the Bears as they came up short on several long drives with turnovers.

The Bears twice made it deep into Soldotna territory, only to watch the hard work erased with interceptions, as Sam McElroy and Cody Quelland both hauled in picks on Kodiak quarterback Shaun Walton.

“They’re not without talented athletes,” Brantley Jr. said. “As nice as it would be to suffocate them and never let them have a yard, and score like a track meet, that’s just not going to happen.”

Brennan Burlew scored Kodiak’s only points of the day to cap a 101-yard rushing performance.

Faletoi said Kodiak’s style of play made for a long day.

“Every time we play them, they’re physical,” Faletoi explained. “They come playing physical.”

Brantley Jr. said as dominant as his record-breaking SoHi team has become, NLC opponents have proven that the Stars could lose their win streak any week. Last weekend, SoHi clung to a slim 14-10 lead entering the fourth quarter before breaking through with a pair of late touchdowns.

While Saturday’s contest in Soldotna wasn’t as close on the scoreboard, the moves Kodiak was putting on the field was enough to keep the SoHi coaching staff working.

Soldotna was also missing two key seniors on the offensive line due to injuries — 230-pound guard Wendell Tuisuala and 305-pound center Eli Lovelace.

Even without the big guys, the Stars managed to score on their first four possessions for a 28-0 lead by the midpoint of the second quarter.

“They’re out there on the sidelines for us,” Faletoi said. “They help us get our confidence up.”

The Stars utilized junior Cody Nye at the center position, with sophomores Zach Hanson and Trent Walden taking up the slack for Tuisuala’s absence.

“Body size wise, we’re not able to move people as well,” Crowder explained. “So those two need to be able to use good technique and what coach taught them to move guys.”

Saturday also saw the return of senior Luke Trammell, who missed the first four weeks of the season with a shoulder injury. Trammell caught a touchdown pass on the opening drive of the third quarter but also had several dropped passes in his first offensive showing of the year, a week after taking snaps on the defensive side of the ball against Palmer.

“Once me and him start clicking and getting our connection going, it’ll be a big credit for us,” Crowder said.

SoHi opened the scoring on a 9-yard slant pass from Crowder to Galen Brantley III, then added to it on a 5-yard scamper by Quelland to make it 14-0. The play was set up by Faletoi’s big 59-yard run up the sideline, shaking off at least four Kodiak tacklers along the way to get the SoHi crowd in a tizzy.

“I passed through the line, saw green and went for it,” Faletoi recalled. “I had a couple guys dragging on me … little push, a stiff arm, I finished as hard as I could.”

After punting on their first four possessions, the Bears finally got things going on offense with a 10-play drive that traversed 30 yards, but on a fourth-and-eight from the SoHi 36-yard line, Walton dropped back looking for an open receiver, but instead found defensive back Sam McElroy in the middle for an interception.

SoHi moved 40 yards from there to set up in Kodiak’s red zone, but a strip fumble by Burlew on a Furlong carry gave Kodiak new life on its own 19-yard line. The Bears moved the ball 47 yards on eight plays, but ran out of time at the SoHi 34-yard line, leading to a 28-0 halftime lead for the Stars.

On the first drive of the third quarter, it took the Stars three plays to hit pay dirt again. Crowder rolled out of the pocket and heaved a 30-yard bomb to Trammell in the end zone to put Soldotna up 35-0.

Kodiak then ate up the clock on a 13-play drive that ultimately ended with a Quelland interception at the 2-yard line.

After Furlong scored his second touchdown of the day late in the third quarter, the Stars put a stamp on the game with a team safety on the ensuing kickoff as two SoHi players caught Kodiak return man Isaiah Galindez in the end zone for a safety.

Stars 44, Bears 7

Kodiak 0 0 0 7 —7

Soldotna 21 7 16 0 —44

First quarter

Sol — Brantley 9 pass from Crowder (Sheridan kick), 6:46

Sol — Quelland 5 run (Sheridan kick), 3:26

Sol — Furlong 18 run (Sheridan kick), :58

Second quarter

Sol — Faletoi 4 run (Sheridan kick), 7:36

Third quarter

Sol — Trammell 30 pass from Crowder (Sheridan kick), 11:12

Sol — Furlong 14 run (Sheridan kick), 1:31

Sol — Team safety, 1:25

Fourth quarter

Kod — Burlew 5 run (Paneda kick), 5:49

Sol Kod

First downs 16 15

Rushing 35-364 35-157

Pass yards 98 67

Total yards 462 224

Comp-att-int 6-13-0 8-20-2

Return yards 39 7

Punts 0 3

Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0

Penalties-yards 8-62 2-10

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — Soldotna: Furlong 12-167, Faletoi 7-102, Trammell 2-2, Quelland 4-30, Crowder 5-4, Wong 3-47, Johnson 1-1, Medcoff 1-11. Kodiak: Burlew 13-101, Finley 8-25, Walton 10-17, Galindez 1-4, Ekin 1-(-2).

Passing — Soldotna: Crowder 6-13-0—98. Kodiak: Walton 8-20-2—67.

Receiving — Soldotna: Brantley 2-37, Trammell 1-30, Faletoi 1-21, Quelland 1-6, Furlong 1-4. Kodiak: Finley 2-28, Galindez 2-15, Francisco 2-13, Paneda 1-7.

Soldotna quarterback Brandon Crowder winds up for the throw against Kodiak Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna quarterback Brandon Crowder winds up for the throw against Kodiak Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna running back Brenner Furlong (center) receives congratulations from teammates Zach Hanson (left) and Aaron Faletoi (right) after scoring a touchdown Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna running back Brenner Furlong (center) receives congratulations from teammates Zach Hanson (left) and Aaron Faletoi (right) after scoring a touchdown Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna defensive back Jersey Truesdell goes in for a tackle on Kodiak running back Kaleb Finley (13) Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna defensive back Jersey Truesdell goes in for a tackle on Kodiak running back Kaleb Finley (13) Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna running back Aaron Faletoi cuts through a hole in the Kodiak defense Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna running back Aaron Faletoi cuts through a hole in the Kodiak defense Saturday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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