Nikiski’s Dwyght Mullins fends off Homer’s Chris Martishev during the playoff game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Dwyght Mullins fends off Homer’s Chris Martishev during the playoff game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tennison leads Homer past Nikiski and into Division III title game

The visiting Homer Mariners locked in their shot at the Division III title with a 54-20 victory over the Nikiski Bulldogs on Saturday, as Mariners quarterback Carter Tennison scored six rushing touchdowns and passed for another score.

The game was a repeat of a Week 7 matchup at Nikiski Middle/High School, which the Mariners won 46-36. This time, Homer led 42-8 at halftime. The Mariners will take on Houston for the championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Service High School in Anchorage.

“They were the better team today,” Nikiski coach Matt Trammell said after the game.

Homer coach Justin Zank said his team managed to show a different defensive front Saturday.

“Our guys were able to read it and execute this week, play with physicality,” he said.

Nikiski opened the game with the ball, but Homer managed to hold them on downs 7 minutes into the game.

After getting his hands on the ball, Homer’s Carter Tennison quickly carried it across the field with a 45-yard rush, then carried it another 20 on the next play for a touchdown. Then, he carried in the two-point conversion and put 8-0 on the board.

Nikiski was stopped on downs again with about 2:30 on the clock. A minute later, Tennison had the ball in the end zone again. The two-point conversion was no good, but the scoreboard showed 14-0.

Entering the second quarter, Nikiski had the ball, but lost it again on downs less than a minute in. Another minute later, Tennison was back in the end zone with the football. Tennison also brought in the conversion for 22-0.

Nikiski retook the ball, and on the Bulldogs second play of the drive, Dwyght Mullins ran 65 yards for Nikiski’s first touchdown. Oliver Parrish brought in the conversion, and Homer’s lead shrank to 22-8.

The Bulldogs almost managed to hold Homer, but Homer’s Markary Reutov caught a 30-yard pass — despite being on the ground after the ball was tipped and he was tackled by Wyatt Maguire.

Two plays later, Homer’s Luke Hanson caught an 8-yard pass from Tennison for a touchdown with 7 minutes left in the first half. Tennison carried in the conversion and restored the Mariner lead at 30-8.

A fumble by Dwyght Mullins put the ball back into Mariners hands following a recovery by Bernie Black. With a minute and a half on the clock, Tennison delivered another touchdown. No conversion, so the score was 36-8.

Homer’s Oak Anderson intercepted a pass to retake possession, and Tennison scored another touchdown with 40 seconds left. The half ends 42-8 after the conversion fails.

Within the first minute of the second half, Homer’s Chris Martishev turned Homer’s possession into a touchdown off of a 48-yard run. No conversion, but Homer’s lead grows to 48-8.

Tennison recovered a fumble from the Bulldogs on the first play of their possession. Only a minute later, he scored another touchdown. There was no conversion and a 54-8 score.

Nikiski’s Sam Yerkes opened up the next possession with a 60-yard run, almost clearing a touchdown before being caught by Martishev at the 17-yard line. Homer then held Nikiski and flipped the ball on downs.

Immediately, Nikiski held Homer right back and forced the first – and only – punt of the night. Nikiski would still be holding the ball when the fourth quarter started and a running clock instituted as a result of the score difference.

On the first play of the final quarter, Yerkes put the Bulldogs back in the end zone with a 34-yard rush. The Bulldogs missed the conversion, but closed the gap to 54-14.

A fumble by Tennison was recovered by Charlie Chamberlain in time for Braeden Porter to make the final score of the night, bringing in a touchdown off of an 8-yard run. The Bulldogs missed the conversion, and with only about a minute left on the clock, the Mariners took a knee and closed the game, 54-20.

Zank said that the Mariners do a good job of avoiding playoff pressure.

“I don’t think that they have the pressure,” he said. “I think they’re just having fun, they’re playing football, and they’re trying to get better every week.”

Trammell said that Sam Yerkes made a lot of big plays, and that his seniors left it out on the field.

Zank said Black played “a heck of a game” at middle linebacker, and said Chris Martishev and Kelsey Reutov also were strong performers. He said Tennison also performed on both sides of the ball, and credited his wide receivers with excellent catches despite the wet conditions.

“I’m proud of my team and how far they made it,” Trammell said. “I’m proud of the effort today.”

Zank said they lost to Houston earlier in the season, and, like Nikiski, it just makes the team hungrier for a win.

“We want to get that one back,” he said. “They’re gonna be physical, they’re gonna be tough, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Tennison, Homer’s quarterback, said the state match would be a chance to make up for their lost state opportunity in 2020, when the playoffs were canceled due to the pandemic.

“I’ve dreamed of this my entire life, so it’s a big opportunity, we’ve got a great group of guys, I’m excited for it,” he said.

Tennison said he was out with an injury when the Mariners lost to Houston earlier this season.

“I know that we came out physically against them last time, and we stuck with them. There were just little mistakes,” he said. “We gotta minimize those, do our jobs, and hopefully we can come out of there with a win.”

Homer’s Carter Tennison runs with the ball, pursued by several Bulldogs, during the playoff game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Carter Tennison runs with the ball, pursued by several Bulldogs, during the playoff game on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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