Not often do both football teams emerge from a 49-6 landslide like the one West poured atop Eagle River feeling good about themselves.
It's all about perspective.
For West, the Cook Inlet Conference victory Saturday night on Eagle River's artificial turf furnished a much-needed salve after the Eagles were rocked 48-0 in their season opener by Punahoa in Honolulu last week.
For Eagle River, substantial gains were made in defeat, especially compared with last week's season-opening 68-6 loss to South.
West used three touchdown passes from quarterback Conor Feckley and 100-yard games from running backs Nathen Sailele and Lincoln Tulimasaelii to push the game into a running clock in the fourth quarter, as dictated by the mercy rule.
"I still think we aren't to our full potential,'' said West coach Tim Davis. "We didn't play sharp, but at the end of the first half we were up 28-0, so you can't be too upset.''
Eagle River effectively rushed the ball and would have exceeded 100 yards rushing if not from a slew of poor snaps and fumbles that amounted to nearly 40 yards of negative yardage. The Wolves also put pressure on Feckley. Unfortunately for them, he is often at his best when he steps up in the pocket, or gets outside the rush, and throws on the run.
After Eagle River drove 66 yards in 12 plays on the opening drive of the game but missed a field-goal attempt, Tulimasaelii bolted 80 yards for a touchdown on West's first play from scrimmage for a 7-0 lead.
"We needed a quick confidence boost,'' Feckley said. "To get off to a good start was important.''
Feckley completed 8 of 15 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Eric Vandervort for a 25-yarder and hooked up with Leroy Elliott on scoring passes of 23 and 25 yards. Two of those strikes, one each to Vandervort and Elliott, came with West facing fourth-and-forever.
"Big props to my offensive line, and the receivers did a great job of getting open on the run,'' Feckley said.
Sailele rushed for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter and blazed 70 yards for a score to open the second half. West also received a 9-yard touchdown run from Lui Faamasino, and Chris Carson was perfect on seven extra points.
"They weren't driving on us,'' said Ed Hall, who did double duty for Eagle River at running back and linebacker. "They got us on big plays.''
Eagle River scored as time expired in the third quarter. Joshua Oberlander cruised 35 yards up the middle but fumbled when tackled from behind. No worries -- lineman Kevin Gilliland picked the ball up on a bounce and covered the last five yards into the end zone.
Hall, a junior, rushed for 47 yards on 18 carries and would have enjoyed stouter yardage if not for an errant pitch he tracked down for a 14-yard loss. His offensive line opened holes and he ran powerfully, an encouraging change from the season opener.
"Overall, it was a lot better,'' Hall said. "We got something going on offense, and we didn't last week.''
Eagle River coach Jason Brewer afterward indicated to his team that Hall can expect ample carries in the future.
"I'm cool with it -- 100 percent,'' Hall said.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
West 7 21 14 7 -- 49
Eagle River 0 0 6 0 -- 6
West -- Tulimasaelii 80 run (Carson kick), 6:23.
West -- Vandervort 25 pass from Feckley (Carson), 11:16.
West -- Sailele 8 run (Carson kick), 5:30.
West -- Elliott 23 pass from Feckley (Carson), 1:14.
West -- Sailele 70 run (Carson), 10:52.
West -- Elliott 25 pass from Feckley (Carson kick), 9:09.
Eagle River -- Gilliland 5 fumble recovery and run (kick blocked), :00.
West-- Faamasino 9 run (Carson kick), 4:34.
West Eagle River
First downs 14 8
Rushes-yards 33-275 40-66
Passing yards 202 21
Return yards 43 88
Passes 8-15-0 3-9-0
Punts 0-0.0 7-27.6
Fumbles-lost 4-2 6-2
Penalties-yards 13-100 6-45
RUSHING -- West: Sailele 7-108, Tulimasaelii 6-100, Feckley 4-24, Faamasino 3-23, Tuilimu 2-13, No. 16 6-9, No. 13 5-2. Eagle River: Oberlander 6-49, Hall 18-47, Gilliland 1-5, Collins 5-2, Madubuko 1-0, Banks 1-0, Team 1-(-12), Eller 6-(-27).
PASSING -- West: Feckley 8-15-0--193, No. 13 1-1-0--9. Eagle River: Eller 3-7-0--21, Collins 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING -- West: Elliott 3-57, Vandervort 2-59, Faualo 1-49, Wilson 1-16, Tulimasaelii 1-12, No. 81 1-9. Eagle River: Hall 1-14, Oberlander 2-7.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News