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Soldotna football silences Moose 33-0

Matt Tunseth

PALMER -- Revenge is a dish best served silent.

Soldotna kept Palmer's infamous "Moose Gooser" cannon that's fired after every Moose score quiet all game as the Stars claimed a 33-0 nonconference football win at Machetanz Field in Palmer.

"They don't make any mistakes in any part of the game," said Palmer head coach Rod Christiansen.

The win was the 22nd in a row for Soldotna, the two-time defending medium schools division champion.

Palmer (0-2 overall, 0-0 Railbelt Conference) was looking to do what no team has done since, well, the Moose two years ago. Soldotna's last loss came to the Moose on Aug. 11, 2012, at Soldotna's Justin Maile Field.

"We're really pleased with the effort," said Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr., whose team has yet to punt in a pair of decisive victories over large-school opponents in the opening two weeks of the season.

Soldotna took advantage of a Palmer miscue to open the scoring. Moose quarterback Justin Roth attempted to throw a swing pass that hit the ground and was ruled a fumble. Soldotna's Dylan Ackerman alertly picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Palmer 14.

The Stars capitalized one play later with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brooks Furlong to tight end Trevor Walden.

Soldotna finished with 312 yards rushing on 36 carries, an average of almost nine yards per run. Drew Gibbs led the way with 96 yards on 10 carries, two which went for scores. Ty Fenton added 93 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.

Soldotna running back Bailey Blumentritt said players have been spending more time focusing on the little things in practice.

"We came into this game really ready to play," said the former Skyview Panther, who joined the powerhouse Stars when Skyview became a middle school this school year.

Blumentritt said he doesn't mind being a part of Soldotna's winning tradition.

"It's like night and day," he said.

Furlong put the Stars up 13-0 with a nifty bit of ball-handling, deftly keeping the ball hidden on his hip as he scampered in from five yards out late in the second quarter.

Soldotna took advantage of a good kickoff return by Jared Chavez to start the second half, marching 42 yards on four plays to take a 19-0 lead on a 22-yard scamper by Fenton.

The Stars pushed their lead to 27-0 after a one-yard plunge by Gibbs late in the third.

Palmer put together its best drive of the game on its ensuing possession, but a 14-play drive bridging the third and fourth quarters was stifled by a big Soldotna goal line stand led by linemen Austin Crowder and Trevor Walden.

Soldotna's next opponent is Thunder Mountain at Soldotna on Aug. 30. Brantley said he doesn't take anyone lightly, but in his postgame remarks to his team, the head coach praised his squad for its dominant performance.

"We've got a pretty doggone good football team here," he said.

Gibbs added his second score of the day with 7:09 left in the game, taking the handoff from Furlong and rumbling 13 yards to give Soldotna (2-0 overall, 0-0 Northern Lights Conference) its final margin of victory.

Despite the lopsided margin, Christiansen said he still has high hopes for his team, which opens Railbelt Conference play Thursday against North Pole in Palmer.

"We're just getting started," he said.

One bright spot for the Moose was junior running back Chase Ferris, who bullied his way to a hard-fought 109 yards on 23 carries.

The victory was especially sweet for Soldotna players who opted to stay in the Mat-Su with their families to hit the Alaska State Fair. Blumentritt, for one, said he definitely planned a visit to the annual party. His fair food of choice?

"Elephant ears," he said. "Those things are just good."

Reach Matt Tunseth at mtunseth@alaskadispatch.com

STARS 33, MOOSE 0

Soldotna    7   6   14   6 — 33

Palmer        0   0   0   0 — 0

First Quarter

SOL — Walden 14 pass from Furlong (Ackerman kick), 2:54.

Second Quarter

SOL — Furlong 5 run (kick failed), 1:18.

Third Quarter

SOL — Fenton 22 run (kick blocked), 10:39.

SOL —Gibbs 1 run (Fowler pass from Furlong), 4:54.

Fourth Quarter

SOL — Gibbs 13 run (pass failed), 7:09.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Soldotna: Gibbs 10- 96, Fenton 10-93, Chavez 1-58, Blumentritt 5-41, Furlong 10-24. Palmer: Ferris 23-109, Hershman 9-33, Roth 6-23, Daniels 3-18, Angol 2-0, Layton 3-(-1).

PASSING — Soldotna: Furlong 4-9-0--61. Palmer: Roth 6-12-2--56.

RECEIVING — Soldotna: Fowler 2-29, Duke 1-18, Walden 1-14. Palmer: Angol 4-47, Spatz 1-6, Layton 1-3.