Peter Kott ran so often and so far on his home turf Saturday afternoon that the only classmates who likely logged more mileage than the Eagle River quarterback were the Wolves cross country athletes competing in Soldotna.
Scampering on option plays, bootlegs and scrambles, Kott parlayed 22 carries into 170 yards and four touchdowns, and propelled Eagle River to a 36-29 Cook Inlet Conference football victory over Dimond.
When the elusive Kott wasn't leaving defenders deflated, he handed or pitched the ball to sturdy Ed Hall, who is like trying to tackle an anvil. Hall covered 98 yards on 20 carries, scored one touchdown and was especially effective in the second half, when he delivered 63 of his rushing yards.
Kott scored on a 1-yard bootleg early in the second quarter and added a 17-yard touchdown on another bootleg before halftime. He bolted 23 yards up the middle on a designed draw late in the third quarter to score and gave the Wolves a late cushion with a 5-yard bootleg for his fourth touchdown.
Kott finished with six carries of 10 yards or more -- his top burst was a 35-yarder -- and 10 of his carries went for six yards or better.
"I studied a lot of Dimond game film,'' Kott said. "I knew they would be sending a linebacker and crashing the ends, so I'd be running around. I didn't expect to be running around like that all day.''
Even when Dimond flushed Kott from the pocket, he usually managed to escape for substantial gains.
"We had pressure on him,'' lamented Dimond coach Chris Borst. "But he had a couple moments of being elusive, and when he did, it cost us.''
The 1-2 punch of Kott and Hall spearheaded an offense that gained 327 yards rushing and 386 yards total offense in its conference opener, all of which was an enormous improvement over the Wolves' season opener. They managed just two yards total offense last week in a 40-8 nonconference loss at North Pole.
Eagle River's outburst Saturday proved enough to hold off a dynamic passing game from Dimond. Lynx quarterback Jeremiah Maga completed 15 of 26 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He connected seven times with junior classmate Marquez Buster, who furnished 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns, one of them coming on a splendid juggling catch at full speed.
Maga went 8 of 11 in the first half, when even his three incompletions hit his receivers' hands. Granted, two of those incompletions came when Eagle River defenders delivered hits that jarred the ball loose.
Eagle River (1-1, 1-0 CIC) and Dimond (0-2, 0-1 CIC) traded touchdowns -- and a 23-yard field goal by Dimond's Jack Sedor -- throughout a gloriously sunny afternoon when Dimond scored in all four quarters and Eagle River scored in three of the quarters.
"It was tough,'' Kott said. "Dimond put up a good fight. We kept going back and forth. It was a lot of tug of war.''
Turnovers proved a pivotal difference. Dimond lost one fumble and Maga threw one interception, and Eagle River turned both turnovers into scores. Nick Roth recovered a fumble late in the first quarter to set up Kott's 1-yard touchdown in the opening minute of the second quarter. Collin Metzel's fourth-quarter interception led to another Wolves touchdown on Kott's 5-yard bootleg with 5 minutes, 28 seconds to play.
That furnished Eagle River its biggest lead of the day at 36-22.
Dimond responded with a 10-play drive punctuated by Maga's 5-yard touchdown pass to Rafa Savala, and Sedor's extra point trimmed Eagle River's lead to 36-29 with 2:06 to go.
But Eagle River's Cory Lestochi snagged Sedor's subsequent onside kick and returned it 23 yards to the Dimond 32.
"Before I got the ball, I knew I'd run with it,'' Lestochi said. "The only time I'd ever drop on it is when it's on the ground and you have to get it. All five of us up front (on the kickoff return team) are fast runners, so when you get the opportunity, you have to take it.''
Eagle River turned the ball over on downs, but just 21.9 seconds remained when Dimond, out of timeouts, took over on its 25. The Lynx never threatened in the waning seconds.
"Heart and passion,'' Lestochi said of he and his teammates on defense. "We're all brothers and we know we have each other's backs.''
Both teams nicked themselves with penalties -- Eagle River's 14 cost it 117 yards and Dimond's 14 docked it 102 yards.
"A lot of dumb stuff with penalties -- jumping offside, getting the formations wrong,'' Borst said. "It's frustrating. On the flip side, I'm happy to put 29 points on the board.
"We're on the edge of doing a lot of good things.''
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Dimond \t6 \t7 \t7 \t10 -- 29
Eagle River \t0 \t21 \t8 \t7 -- 36
Dimond -- Tanuvasu 4 run (run failed), 8:50.
Eagle River -- Kott 1 run (Willeford kick), 11:35.
Eagle River -- Hall 3 run (kick failed), 3:17.
Dimond -- Buster 25 pass from Maga (kick blocked), :57.
Eagle River -- Kott 17 run (Hall run), :02.
Dimond -- Buster 44 pass from Maga (Sedor kick), 10:05.
Eagle River -- Kott 23 run (Roth pass from Metzel), 1:32.
Dimond -- FG 23Sedor, 10:19.
Eagle River -- Kott 5 run (Willeford kick), 5:28.
Dimond-- Raga Zavala 5 pass from Maga (Sedor kick), 2:06.
Dimond Eagle River
First downs 15 15
Rushes-yards 29-29 47-327
Passing yards 245 59
Return yards 67 125
Passes 15-26-1 5-13-0
Punts 1-33.0 2-28.5
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 14-102 14-117
RUSHING -- Dimond: Coleman 6-27, Barrett 5-16, Vasai 7-11, Tanuvasa 5-7, Bratcher 1-1, Maga 5-(-34). Eagle River: Kott 22-170, Hall 20-98, Collins 4-47, I. Banks 1-12.
PASSING -- Dimond: Maga 15-26-1--245. Eagle River: Kott 5-13-0--59.
RECEIVING -- Dimond: Buster 7-154, Barrett 3-19, Coleman 2-43, Rafa Zavala 2-18, Vasai 1-11. Eagle River: Collins 3-51, Evans 2-8.
By DOYLE WOODY