Anchorage — Service's Amu Aukusitino made football fans shake their heads in amazement time after time on a snowy Saturday at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium, helping the Cougars earn a spot in the large-school state championship game for the third straight season.
Churning out highlights that included everything from hurdling tacklers to throwing pin-point touchdown passes, the senior quarterback had a hand in seven scores for the second straight week. He ran for four touchdowns and passed for three in the Cougars' 49-34 semifinal win over West.
"I've seen a lot of Amu highlights over the past few years and in a weird way I'm bummed I'm not gonna see any more next year on the high school level," West coach Tim Davis said. "His highlights are some of the most exciting plays that you see."
Aukusitino amassed more than 500 yards, leading all rushers with 301 yards and passing for 232.
Aukusitino, who also intercepted two passes on defense, said he was able to shake some early nerves and get into a rhythm as the game went along.
"I was nervous, but it's always good to play nervous," he said.
Along with fans who barely filled half of the bleachers on either side of the field, Davis also watched West senior quarterback Conor Feckley throw four touchdown passes in his last high school game."
"Conor is a special kid, and I wish we could've found a way to get him another ring," Davis said. "I think we saw two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the state today. I hope the fans got a treat."
Feckley completed 26 of 51 passes for 446 yards, with three of his touchdown passes coming in the second half as he tried to rally the Eagles from a three-score deficit.
Feckley led the Eagles (6-4) to a state title as a sophomore in 2010, a 6-0 win over Service that marked the last time the Cougars (9-1) have lost to a Cook Inlet Conference team. Their lone loss this year came against a team from Hawaii.
Service and Aukusitino beat South 37-23 in last year's state championship. South, which beat Palmer 25-7 on Friday, will meet Service again next weekend at Chugiak.
With the score tied 14-14 early in the second quarter, Service pulled away with two touchdown passes from Aukusitino to Matt Ilalio, a 26-yarder and a 15-yarder. That gave the Cougars a 29-14 halftime lead.
On Service's second possession of the second half, Aukusitino broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one play to put Service up 36-14.
The Cougars followed the touchdown by recovering an on-side kick and capping a 50-yard drive with a 1-yard score by Aukusitino to lead 43-14.
West, which got 194 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions from Leroy Elliot, followed Aukusitino's fourth rushing touchdown with two late scores in the fourth quarter.
"To see our guys fight back in the late third and fourth quarter meant more than anything," Feckley said.
Feckley said that as the end of the game neared, he began to realize that his high school career -- one in which he led the CIC in passing for three straight seasons -- was coming to an end.
"I am just sitting here realizing I'm never going to put this jersey and helmet back on," he said. "It's been a complete honor. I can't thank everybody enough."
West 7 7 7 13 -- 34
Service 7 22 14 6 -- 49
West -- Elliot 10 pass from Faualo (Carson kick), 10:24
Service -- Aukusitino 6 run (Raguindin kick), 7:39.
Service -- Toomer 15 pass from Aukusitino (Raguindin kick), 10:50.
West -- Elliot 73 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), 9:50.
Service -- Ilalo 26 pass from Aukusitino (Pili run), 8:42.
Service -- Ilalio 15 pass from Aukusitino (Raguindin kick), 6:46.
Service -- Aukusitino 80 run (Raguindin kick), 10:02.
Service -- Aukusitino 1 run (Raguindin kick), 9:08.
West -- Elliot 21 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), 6:15.
Service -- Aukusitino 1 run (kick fail), 6:02.
West -- Elliot 10 pass from Feckley (pass fail), 3:41.
West -- Vandervort 16 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), :8.3.
First downs 21 26
Rushes-yards 17-26 38-356
Passing yards 456 232
Return yards 82 5
Passes 27-53-4 16-32-3
Punts 1-33 1-30
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-75 8-66
RUSHING -- West: Tulimasealii 4-15; Feckley 4-10; Faualo 3-4; Sailele 6-(-3). Service: Aukusitino 24-301; Corder 11-37; Raguindin 2-10; Toomer 1-6; Pili 2-2.
PASSING -- West: Feckley 26-51-3--446; Faualo 1-2-1-10. Service: Aukusitino 16-32-3--232.
RECEIVING -- West: Elliot 12-194; Vandervort 10-150; Wilson 2-30; Bell 1-42; Corpuz 1-30. Service: Butler 5-86; Ilalio 4-77; Brown 3-27; Toomer 2-25; Robinson 2-17.