Story last updated at 1:09 p.m. Thursday, September 19, 2002

Mariners drop one, 27-12, to Stars
by Sepp Jannotta
Homer News

photo: sports

  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Mariner tailback David Drake heads up the sideline during a first-half run as Soldotna defensive back Ricky Simpson gives chase. The Stars beat Homer 27-12.  
The Mariners and Stars brought their best game faces as they took the field on a drizzly Kachemak Bay evening for a key Northern Lights Conference tilt. Unfortunately, with the football behaving at times like a greased-up prize-winning pig on the loose at a butcher's convention, those game faces looked a little frustrated as both teams struggled to maintain a handle on the ball.

In the end, big plays and some very key bounces were the difference Friday night for Soldotna High School, which headed back up the road with a 27-12 win over Homer in the bag and a firm hold on first-place in the conference. The win also amounts to a playoff berth for the Stars, who already have beaten Skyview in their three-game conference schedule.

Fullback Derrick Martin was explosive for the Stars, galloping to a pair of long but hard-nosed touchdown runs.

Martin, whose touchdowns came from 66 and 41 yards out, had 126 yards on 12 carries in the game.

The Stars capitalized on the Mariners' mistakes, scoring 20 points off Homer's seven turnovers, including the back-breaker -- Dan Ghormley's 32-yard interception return for a touchdown off Jake Fraley with the Mariners down eight points and 6:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"Turnovers were a killer," said Homer's Adam Crum. "And stupid penalties took us out of some of our drives. We got a little amped up early in the game, and that came back to haunt us."

Homer coach Terry Fraley matter-of-factly summed it up.

"You can't turn the ball over that many times and expect to win," he said. "It just isn't going to happen."

Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell, who watched his own team put the ball on the turf five times, simply shook his head at the Stars' fortune to maintain possession on all but one of the miscues.

"It was pretty ugly," he said. "We fumbled the ball too much, and they fumbled the ball too much. We just took advantage (of their mistakes) a couple of times defensively."

Middle linebacker Johnny Howarth, who pulled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eric Simpson to open the scoring in the first quarter, was one Soldotna defender who played the opportunist. Howarth grabbed a pair of interceptions, one of which set up Martin's 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

But the Stars' interior defensive line might have made the biggest statement of the night, stepping it up against the potent Mariner rushing attack.

After the game, Howarth said shutting down the Mariner attack was the main focus for the Stars coming in to the game.

"We had concentrated on it all week, and when it came down to it, we got it done," Howarth said.

Homer tailback David Drake still managed 145 yards on 29 carries and a pair of touchdowns, but the Mariners were unable to establish their inside rushing attack. Most of Drake's big gains sent him out wide and the Stars stymied Crum, who picked up just 20 yards on seven carries from the fullback position.

"They put a lot of size in the middle," Crum said. "We had a hard time adjusting to it, and it kind of took us out of our heads."

With the exception of some big gains from Martin, Homer's defense kept the Stars somewhat off their game, delivering enough big hits that Truesdell had to acknowledge that several of his players were not feeling too well after the game.

Mariner safety Jon Adams picked off two passes.

With the win the Stars are 2-0 in conference play and 5-1 overall.

The Mariners, who fell to 0-1, 4-2, will welcome the Kenai Kardinals to town for homecoming on Saturday.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homernews.com.

BYLINE1:by Sepp Jannotta

BYLINE2:Homer News

The Mariners and Stars brought their best game faces as they took the field on a drizzly Kachemak Bay evening for a key Northern Lights Conference tilt. Unfortunately, with the football behaving at times like a greased-up prize-winning pig on the loose at a butcher's convention, those game faces looked a little frustrated as both teams struggled to maintain a handle on the ball.

In the end, big plays and some very key bounces were the difference Friday night for Soldotna High School, which headed back up the road with a 27-12 win over Homer in the bag and a firm hold on first-place in the conference. The win also amounts to a playoff berth for the Stars, who already have beaten Skyview in their three-game conference schedule.

Fullback Derrick Martin was explosive for the Stars, galloping to a pair of long but hard-nosed touchdown runs.

Martin, whose touchdowns came from 66 and 41 yards out, had 126 yards on 12 carries in the game.

The Stars capitalized on the Mariners' mistakes, scoring 20 points off Homer's seven turnovers, including the back-breaker -- Dan Ghormley's 32-yard interception return for a touchdown off Jake Fraley with the Mariners down eight points and 6:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"Turnovers were a killer," said Homer's Adam Crum. "And stupid penalties took us out of some of our drives. We got a little amped up early in the game, and that came back to haunt us."

Homer coach Terry Fraley matter-of-factly summed it up.

"You can't turn the ball over that many times and expect to win," he said. "It just isn't going to happen."

Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell, who watched his own team put the ball on the turf five times, simply shook his head at the Stars' fortune to maintain possession on all but one of the miscues.

"It was pretty ugly," he said. "We fumbled the ball too much, and they fumbled the ball too much. We just took advantage (of their mistakes) a couple of times defensively."

Middle linebacker Johnny Howarth, who pulled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eric Simpson to open the scoring in the first quarter, was one Soldotna defender who played the opportunist. Howarth grabbed a pair of interceptions, one of which set up Martin's 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

But the Stars' interior defensive line might have made the biggest statement of the night, stepping it up against the potent Mariner rushing attack.

After the game, Howarth said shutting down the Mariner attack was the main focus for the Stars coming in to the game.

"We had concentrated on it all week, and when it came down to it, we got it done," Howarth said.

Homer tailback David Drake still managed 145 yards on 29 carries and a pair of touchdowns, but the Mariners were unable to establish their inside rushing attack. Most of Drake's big gains sent him out wide and the Stars stymied Crum, who picked up just 20 yards on seven carries from the fullback position.

"They put a lot of size in the middle," Crum said. "We had a hard time adjusting to it, and it kind of took us out of our heads."

With the exception of some big gains from Martin, Homer's defense kept the Stars somewhat off their game, delivering enough big hits that Truesdell had to acknowledge that several of his players were not feeling too well after the game.

Mariner safety Jon Adams picked off two passes.

With the win the Stars are 2-0 in conference play and 5-1 overall.

The Mariners, who fell to 0-1, 4-2, will welcome the Kenai Kardinals to town for homecoming on Saturday.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homernews.com.

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