Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:18 PM on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homer football takes first fall to Soldotna's Stars

Staff report

It was bound to be a battle when the Mariners met the Stars in Soldonta last Friday, and that's exactly what it was.

SoHi held a 19-0 lead in the third quarter and survived a Homer comeback bid to hold on for a 26-22 victory and the Northern Lights Conference first-place standing.

Soldotna senior running back Auston Tennis added to his touchdown total with a 1-yard score in the first half.

He was joined by two touchdowns by Jared Duncan and one by Reid Schmelzenbach.

Taylor Downes scored three touchdowns for Homer in the last half of the game, but the rally wasn't enough to overcome Soldotna's steady scoring over all four quarters.

SoHi's lead began to waver in the third quarter when Homer's offense started to surge. A three-yard touchdown run by Downes with 4:50 left in the quarter gave the Mariners new life. Another score by Downes in the third led to a recovered onside kick, and the Mariners took over around midfield, down 19-14 going into the fourth quarter.

Homer threatened to score again with a third-and-goal at the Soldotna nine. The SoHi defense sacked Mariners quarterback Robin Glosser for a seven-yard loss, giving Homer a fourth-and-goal at the 16. Glosser stepped back to pass, and was intercepted by SoHi senior Colton Young, who ran it back 40 yards to give Soldotna the ball on its own 40-yard line.

SoHi senior running back Duncan capitalized on the turnover, adding a 37-yard touchdown. A successful PAT gave the Stars a 26-14 lead with 6:02 left in the game.

Homer kept driving. A pivotal 14-yard run by Glosser on fourth-and-inches, in addition to a 15-yard face-mask penalty committed by SoHi, gave the Mariners the ball on the SoHi 19.

A couple of short gains led to another fourth-and-goal at the SoHi three. Wyatt called Downes' number again, and he pushed his way to the end zone for another touchdown.

The conversion was successful, making the score 26-22 with 2:24 left to determine who would stay undefeated.

Homer lined up for an onside kick again, but lightning did not strike twice. The ball went out of bounds, and all SoHi had to do was to take a knee and let the clock run down.

Although SoHi may have won the battle, these two teams could very well meet again in October in the playoffs.

"That (Homer) is an extremely talented football team and a very well-coached football team," SoHi Head Coach Galen Brantley Jr. told the Peninsula Clarion. "I don't think they have anything to hang their heads about - they're going to be right in the thick of things with everybody else."

Brantley Jr. said he thought his team's first drive of the second half would put them in control of the game, but he admired the Mariners for staying in the game and not letting up.

"It just shows the sheer grit and determination of the Mariner kids to not hang their heads and not quit," he said. "They clawed their way all the way back into the game."

Homer Head Coach Cam Wyatt said he would have liked to see his team play the whole game like it did the second half, but he thinks they'll have a chance at redemption.

"I wish my boys had played 60 minutes instead of 30," Wyatt said. "But you know what, we're going to see those boys again in four weeks."

Wyatt admired his team's effort, and thinks these types of games are good for the athletes.

"They did leave a lot of heart out there tonight," he said. "When they come in here and start banging, and going like this, we get good games. This is what's good for football in Alaska, what's good for football in the Kenai Peninsula - it builds great character."

Soldotna meets Kodiak and Homer faces Skyview tomorrow.

Peninsula Clarion reporter Logan Tuttle contributed to this story.