In an otherwise drama-free Cook Inlet Conference football game Friday night -- South 41, East 0 -- South sophomore Nicholas Settle managed to inject some excitement into the proceedings at Anchorage Football Stadium.
In the first half, Settle appeared to be tackled to the artificial turf near the line of scrimmage as he carried the ball around left end. But nothing other than his hand actually touched the carpet as he rolled across the body of East tackler Presley Piliati, so Settle regained his footing and scampered 71 yards before being chased down from behind by East's blazing Jakiel Bell at the Thunderbirds' 8-yard line.
In the second half, a Zach Lujan swing pass was headed Settle's way but was deflected by Bell. Settle promptly snatched the ball out of mid-air and dashed into the end zone for a 21-yard score.
"Lucky game,'' Settle said. "It was my night tonight.''
Lot of that going around for the Wolverines -- not the luck part, really, just that it was completely their evening.
South racked 402 yards in total offense, received a monster night from running back Dante Williams -- 187 yards rushing and a touchdown on a mere 11 carries -- and also got two touchdown passes from Lujan and two field goals from Kahlil Autry. Autry also scored on a 16-yard run.
While East gained 234 yards total offense, a quarter of that came deep in garbage time -- the teams played the last 10 minutes with a running clock because South led by more than 35 points.
The Wolverines (2-0, 2-0 CIC) have been carrying a collective chip on their shoulders because they inexplicably were not ranked in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network's poll last week. Granted, South's 68-6 win over Eagle River in Week 1 didn't carry much weight, but the Wolverines are the defending state runner-up.
In any event, the Wolverines will presumably be ranked this week.
"I think they should be in the top two,'' said East coach Jeff Trotter. "I think (defending champion) Service and South, top two teams.''
South scored on a 29-yard strike just 2 minutes, 7 seconds into the game when Lujan lofted a pass over the middle to Louis Page, who couldn't have been more alone if he had been hiking solo in the Chugach Mountains. Lujan scored on a 1-yard sneak five minutes later to give the Wolverines a 14-0 cushion.
East responded with a 13-play drive but an apparent second-quarter, 35-yard touchdown pass from Jesse Vanilau to Jarred Laws was nullified when Laws was whistled for offensive pass interference. East ended up punting, which it did seven times.
Two possessions later, Piliati (one sack) appeared to have Settle wrestled down, but Settle rolled over the top of the defender and set sail down the left sideline.
"I just stuck my hand down and kept my legs pumping,'' Settle said. "I knew my knee didn't touch the ground and I didn't hear a whistle.''
That long run set up a 24-yard field goal by Eyob Imlach, who pounded a 33-yard field goal just before half.
Settle also returned a punt 31 yards and caught one pass for 21 yards.
South's defense recorded five sacks, one each by Mervin Taha, David Alston, Dalton Sauder, Brenton Giliam and Jaremie Augafa. Augafa said his team's relentless defense is a product of its work in the days leading up to the game.
"That's the way we practice, 100 percent, every day, all day,'' Augafa said. "It's all heart.''
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South 14 6 12 7 -- 41
East 0 0 0 0 -- 0
South -- Page 29 pass from Lujan (Imlach kick), 9:53.
South -- Lujan 1 run (Imlach kick), 4:28.
South -- FG 24 Imlach, 4:25.
South -- FG 33 Imlach, :17.
South -- Autry 16 run (kick blocked), 5:01.
South -- Williams 25 run (kick blocked), :41.
South -- Safety, East punt blocked out of end zone, 10:59.
South -- Settle 21 pass from Lujan (Toomey kick), 10:02.
First downs 18 11
Rushes-yards 33-315 36-143
Passing yards 87 91
Return yards 103 197
Passes 5-10-0 7-16-1
Punts 2-16.5 7-24.9
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-55 10-111
RUSHING -- South: Williams 11-187, Settle 4-69, Autry 7-37, Esplin 2-10, Hopp 2-8, Loewe 1-2, Alsworth 1-2, Lujan 4-0, West 1-0. East: Su'ato'o12-61, Jones 2-9, Atifale 8-8, Lealao 1-5, Bell 3-2, Vanilau 9-3.
PASSING -- South: Lujan 5-10-0--87. East: Vanilau 6-14-1--77, Wolfe 1-2-0--14.
RECEIVING -- South: Page 1-29, Settle 1-21, West 1-14, Toomey 1-12, Autry 1-11. East: Su'ate'o 3-22, Laws 2-28, Bell 1-31, Luafulu 1-10.