During a brief time near the end of the third quarter Friday at Anchorage Football Stadium, it almost seemed like East was beating Service.
East fans were on their feet, chanting in unison with cheerleaders after two unanswered touchdowns by their team were followed by the recovery of an onside kick.
Unfortunately for East fans, Service had already beat the T-birds to the punch by scoring the game's first five touchdowns on its way to a 46-12 Cook Inlet Conference win.
Service improved to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in CIC play, with East falling to 0-2, 0-1 in CIC play.
"The scoreboard showed we did our thing," said Service quarterback C.J. Toomer, who threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
Service has shown the ability to score in bunches this season. The Cougars have cleared the 40-point mark in two straight weeks, thumping Colony 52-21 last weekend. They had Friday's game well in hand by the time Levi Hansen returned an interception 30 yards for a score that put the Cougars up 18-0 about a minute prior to halftime.
The defense was at it again in the second half, taking a 25-0 lead on a 60-yard fumble return by Jordan Summerlin.
"The defense, they prepared hard," Toomer said. "They came out and did exactly what they needed to do."
Toomer put the Cougars up 32-0 with 21-yard touchdown pass to Nyeem Johnson midway through the third quarter. Toomer also connected with Johnson on a 50-yarder in the first half and found Nahshon Fromm for a 26-yarder as time expired in the first quarter.
For all the offensive highlights, there were just as many poor passes from Toomer that could have easily been intercepted by East defenders, but the ball always bounced out of the Thunderbirds' hands and onto the turf. East wasn't particularly adept at hanging on to the ball when it had possession, either, turning the ball over five times.
"It comes down to ball security," East coach Jeff Trotter said. "They scored 28 points off our mistakes and that's a pretty big difference in the game."
East, which suffered a 65-6 loss to South to open the season last weekend, began Friday's game with some intensity on defense. Tough play in the first quarter repeatedly set up the East offense with field position in Service territory, but the Thunderbirds couldn't muster any points.
The Thunderbirds got on the board late in the third quarter when quarterback Clayton Washburn found Jytre Berry with an 11-yard scoring pass. Chase Hawk breathed life into the East fans when he provided the play of the game.
The junior wide receiver took the ball on an end-around and looked like he was going to be tackled near the line of scrimmage, but somehow broke through the first wave of tacklers. Spinning and juking his way between the right hash mark and the right sideline, it looked like he broke about 10 tackles before finally reaching the end zone.
"I just wasn't planning on going down on that run," Hawk said.
Hawk, who said he probably only broke three or four tackles on the big play, said he was motivated by competitive banter coming from the Service sideline before the run.
Service will try to stay unbeaten next weekend against Bartlett (0-1). The early-season schedule doesn't get any easier for East, which will take on its third-straight playoff team from last season in Palmer (2-0).
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Service 6 12 14 14 -- 46
East 0 0 12 0 -- 12
Service -- Nahshon Fromm 26 pass from C.J. Toomer (kick fail), 0:00
Service -- Nyeem Johnson 50 pass from C.J. Toomer (run fail), 4:59
Service -- Levi Hansen 30 interception return (kick fail), 1:20
Service -- Jordan Summerlin 60 fumble return, (Haleigh Van Allen kick) 11:27
Service -- Nyeem Johnson 21 pass from C.J. Toomer (Van Allen kick good), 7:42
East -- Jytre Berry 11 pass from Clayton Washburn (run fail), 2:35
East -- Chase Hawk 42 run (run fail), 0:15
Service -- Toomer 1 run (Van Allen kick), 10:31
Service -- Zach Langlais 2 run (Van Allen kick), 9:11
First downs 18 11
Rushes-yards 43-161 36-113
Passing yards 265 98
Return yards 98 126
Passes 12-26-0 7-24-4
Punts 4-26.0 8-26.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-60 6-45
RUSHING -- Service: Langlais 21-80; Toomer 7-41; Jones 12-34; Peltola 2-12; Kekoa Fomai 1- (-6). East: Hawk 1-42; Washburn 7-28; Seui 4-17; Chance Lealao 7-17; Cottee 2-12; Henderson 2-10; Scott 5-1; Martin 1=0; Fonoti 2-0; Piliati 1-(-2); Brown 4-(-12).
PASSING -- Service: Toomer 12-26-0 -- 265. East: Washburn 7-23-3 -- 98; Seui 0-1-1 -- 0
RECEIVING -- Service: Johnson 3-78; Fromm 3-69; Allen 3-24; Aliju 2-69; Langlais 1-25. East: Berry 2-30; Hawk 2-16; Scott 1-28; Brown 1-18; Martin 1-6.
By JEREMY PETERS