Jontay Edwards and the Bartlett running game got better as the game wore on Saturday night, and the Golden Bears eventually wore down Wasilla to the tune of 327 rushing yards and a 42-20 win.
Edwards scampered for 160 yards and four touchdowns and the Golden Bears, ranked No. 1 in Alaska's largest football division, overcame a Wasilla team that led for much of the first half.
On their first drive, the Golden Bears dashed for 50 yards, using six straight rushing plays to score in 1 minute and 48 seconds. A 4-yard Edwards run made it 6-0 Bartlett.
Edwards tacked on another score just before halftime that made it 28-13 Bartlett and tallied two more in the fourth quarter to ice the win.
"He's a big strong physical back," Wasilla coach Will Stout said. "He just wears you down as the game goes on."
The 5-foot-9, 210-pound senior, rumbled off longest runs on his final two carries — a 22-yard run followed by a 35-yard touchdown in the closing minutes.
Last season, Edwards started as a backup, but when a couple of Bartlett running backs went down with injuries he was given a chance to shine, finishing the season as an All-State first-team pick.
Now, he's the feature back in Bartlett's signature wing-T running game.
"It's a great opportunity to be a go-to man now," Edwards said. "I always worked hard even though I was behind the scenes … I'm just glad to be on the field doing my thing."
Joining Edwards in the backfield Saturday were Cargill (92 yards) and running back Tsuginori Fudge (61 yards).
Wasilla was led by quarterback Aeron Milliron, who went 3 of 13 passing for 61 yards and he rushed for 94 yards on 10 attempts to lead the Warriors.
Following a Bartlett fumble in the first quarter, the Warriors took advantage of great field position to snag their only lead of the game.
After two straight touchdown passes were called back by penalties, Milliron found wide receiver Zachary Shogren wide open on a crossing route for a 40-yard score. The extra point gave Wasilla a 13-6 lead.
It didn't last long.
Cargill scurried 27 yards to tie the game early in the second quarter and Edwards punched in the two-point conversion to give Bartlett a 14-13 lead.
The Golden Bears scored twice more before halftime and never trailed the rest of the game.
Despite the loss, Wasilla coach Will Stout said he's pleased with his team's progress.
"(Bartlett) was the last team we faced (last season) and they beat us 62-12," Stout said. "We're happy with the progress we've made October of last year to now."
Edwards said Bartlett is playing this season with heavy hearts. Team member Mlooglug Chervang died following a swimming accident in Goose Lake in July.
"We're just doing it all for him," Edwards said. "He didn't get the opportunity to do what we're doing on the field right now, so it's all for him.
"He's been in our hearts."
Wasilla 13 0 7 0 — 20
Bartlett 6 22 0 14 — 42
Bartlett — Edwards 4 run (Turner kick failed), 10:12.
Wasilla — McDermott 4 run (Roehl kick blocked), 5:38.
Wasilla — Shogren 40 pass from Milliron, (Roehl kick), 3:34.
Bartlett — Cargill 27 run (Edwards run), 11:51.
Bartlett — Malia-Hughes 9 run (Cargill run), 0:36.7.
Bartlett — Edwards 1 run (Cargill run failed), 0:12.5.
Wasilla — Fuller 8 pass from Milliron (Roehl kick), 1:06.
Bartlett — Edwards 2 run (Cargill run), 11:37.
Bartlett — Edwards 35 run (run failed), 0:56.2.
RUSHING — Wasilla: Milliron 10-94, McDermott 12-47, Quenga 7-30, Shogren 7-25, Trask 6-20, Thompson 1-5, Helotn 1-4, team 4-5, Wheeler 1-1. Bartlett: Edwards 22-160, Cargill 10-92, Fudge 11-79, Malia-Hughes 3-7, Wilson 1-(-2), Andraschko 1-(-4), team 2-(-5).
PASSING — Wasilla: Milliron 3-13-0–61. Bartlett: Malia-Hughes 0-2-0–0.
RECEIVING — Wasilla: Shogren 1-40, McDermott 1-13, Fuller 1-8. Bartlett: None.