Kodiak fumbled away a chance at securing a postseason berth Monday night.
The Bears lost three second-half fumbles as the Mariners scooped up a crucial 20-0 Northern Lights Conference football victory in pelting rain at Joe Floyd Track and Field.
A Kodiak (2-2 NLC, 3-4 overall) victory would have given the Bears the No. 2 seed in the NLC and a berth into the medium-school playoffs. Now the Bears face a must-win game on Saturday at Skyview to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2009.
Homer (3-1, 4-2) gains control of the No. 2 spot and finishes the regular season Saturday against Houston.
The top three teams in the NLC qualify for postseason play.
“We got another shot next week. But, man I wanted to win this game for our seniors,” Kodiak coach Jim Schnick said. “It is just tough. We like making it difficult on ourselves.”
Kodiak has been plagued by turnover problems all season. The Bears lost six fumbles in a 41-7 loss to Soldotna last week. On Monday, they lost three fumbles and threw an interception.
Kodiak’s first fumble led to Homer’s opening touchdown of the game as Tommy Bowe scooted in from 15 yards midway through the third quarter. Homer converted the two-point attempt for an 8-0 lead it would never relinquish.
“It’s the same thing we talked about last week. We are going to look at an all-new backfield next week, because we can’t drop the ball. We have tried everything,” said Schnick, whose team has lost four consecutive games to Homer, a streak dating to 2008.
While the Bears never found their footing, Homer found its game in the second half on the legs of option quarterback Mark McGregor.
The senior rushed for 185 yards and two second-half scores on 45 carries. The majority of his yards came up the middle behind Homer’s massive offensive line.
“My hat’s off to McGregor for the way he lead the team,” Wyatt said.
McGregor’s 5-yard run midway through the fourth put Homer up 14-0. He finished the scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 45 seconds left in the game.
McGregor has split time with Sheldon Hutt behind center this season, but Wyatt had a hunch to start McGregor against Kodiak.
“We scouted and they showed a lot of raw talent and a lot of speed,” Wyatt said. “For this game, Mark was the choice.”
Homer’s offense gained 259 yards on 64 total plays, while Kodiak was held to 29 yards on 37 plays. The Bears had minus-10 rushing yards on 30 attempts and had only five first downs — two off Homer penalties.
“Our defense was just out on the field for too long,” Schnick said. “They are going to break a play here and there. That is why they were moving the ball. The defense played fantastic, they just didn’t get any help from the offense.”
Melvin Javier’s 11-yard run in the first quarter was Kodiak’s longest rushing attempt of the game, while Josh Yavorsky’s 15-yard pass to Ruben Amodo in the fourth was the Bears’ longest play from scrimmage.
“We just couldn’t move the ball offensively. We go one week with our offensive line having a great week to the next week where we didn’t do much at all,” Schnick said. “Their defensive linemen were making a lot of plays. We weren’t getting much push off them. It is hard to win when you have two defensive lineman in your backfield.”
This pivotal NLC showdown took place Monday because fog barred Homer’s flights over the weekend.
Homer attempted to fly into Kodiak three times over the weekend before finally arriving Monday morning.
“The respect goes out to those Kodiak boys, because they have to do this every weekend to get to their game,” Homer coach Cam Wyatt said. “For the Mariners to experience that, it is a check on reality.”
This was the final home game for seniors Jemuel Medina, Ryan Lenon, Ruben Amodo, Andrew Gregory, Rustom Dela Cruz, Eddy Burris, Dakota Wibbe, Seth Starr, Josh Obas, Jefferson Villasenor, Fredy Sorto, Jonathan Richard, Jingo Olaes, Darren Aitolu, Tucker Bigley, Joseph Ramos and Avril Dela Cruz . The group was honored before the game.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.
MARINERS 20, BEARS 0
Homer 0 0 8 12 — 20
Kodiak 0 0 0 0 — 0
Homer — Bowe 15 run (Reutov run), 5:57
Homer — McGregor 5 run (run failed), 7:12.
Homer — McGregor 1 run (pass failed), :45.
First downs 15 5
Rushes-yards 59-256 30-(-10)
Passing yards 4 39
Passing 1-2-0 3-7-1
Fumbles-lost 8-2 5-3
Penalties-lost 11-85 5-60
Rushing: Homer — McGregor 45-185, Reutov 8-37, Bowe 5 -37, Cardoza 1-(-3). Kodiak — Javier 8-11, Medina 6-13, Yavorsky 11-(33), Gregory 4-(-2), Wibbe 1-1.
Passing: Homer — McGregor 1-2-0-4. Kodiak — Yavorsky 3-7-1-39.
Receiving: Homer — Hutt 1-4. Kodiak — Sorto 2-24, Amodo 1-15.