Spread offense pushes Kenai football past Eielson
AJ Hull could get used to this.
Making his debut in a spread offense implemented by first-year coach John Marquez, the Kenai Central quarterback put his legs and arm on display in a 42-22 nonconference victory over visiting Eielson on Saturday.
Hull rushed for two touchdowns and connected on a pair of long pass plays in the new system, which gives the quarterback run-pass options on many plays.
"I love it," said Hull, who rolled out of the pocket nearly every time the Kardinals attempted a pass. "Every play could be a touchdown."
Hull made big plays all afternoon.
After returning a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown on Eielson's opening drive, the senior had a 55-yard touchdown run called back on the Kards' first possession because of a block in the back.
Two plays later, he rolled left toward the sideline and connected with Matt Mendenhall on a 59-yard bomb. That set up a 4-yard touchdown run from Levi Hanson, giving the Kards a 14-0 lead.
With Kenai Central leading 14-6 early in the third quarter, Hull found Tory Fitzpatrick over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown strike.
Hull then left his stamp on the game with a pair of nifty touchdown runs, both on scrambles to the left side.
He scored from 37 out at the 8:01 mark of the third and from 33 out at 5:03, giving the Kards a 35-6 lead.
"AJ is a playmaker," Marquez said. "He will help carry this team. I say ‘help' because we have multiple threats. We believe in using all our athletes."
With three touchdowns and a combined 177 yards on the ground and through the air, Hull carried the load Saturday.
But true to Marquez's style, others contributed.
Levi Hanson had touchdown runs of 4 and 16 yards, piling up 80 yards on 14 carries. Joe Sandahl added 56 yards on six carries.
Marquez was happy with the team's effort on both sides of the ball, but said there are things it must fix before a Week 2 contest against Skyview.
"The kids gave 100 percent," Marquez said. "But there were some mental mistakes - guys being out of position - but everything is fixable."
Kenai Central's defense spent a lot of time on the field.
Eielson ran 60 plays to Kenai Central's 33, running the ball 46 times. The Ravens had three players who received at least 10 carries.
Despite the run-first approach, the Ravens did their damage on the scoreboard through the air.
All three Eielson touchdowns came on passing plays - of 23, 35 and 38 yards.
Quarterback Jovante Kincade connected with Tyler Phillips from 35 and 38 in the fourth, but Kenai Central had the game under control.
Marquez said the defense was at its best in the third quarter. Sandahl came up with an interception, and the Ravens were held scoreless over the 12 minutes.
"They were afraid of making mistakes," Marquez said of the defense in the first half. "We told them to relax, get dirty and hit someone."
The Kards figure to have their hands full next week against Skyview.
The Panthers, who defeated Wasilla 32-20 Saturday, have a pair of explosive players in quarterback Jordan Jones and wide receiver Albert White.
Marquez is already looking ahead to the challenge.
"Now it's Skyview all the way," he said. "They are strong, they are going to pose some challenges."
Kardinals 42, Ravens 22
Eielson 0 6 0 16 -22
Kenai 7 7 21 7 -42
Ken - Hull 31 fumble return (Wagoner kick), 10:37
Ken - Hanson 4 run (Wagoner kick), 9:50
Eie - Delauder 23 pass from Kincade (kick failed), 0:47
Ken - Fitzpatrick 37 pass from Hull (Wagoner kick), 9:16
Ken - Hull 37 run (Wagoner kick), 8:01
Ken - Hull 33 run (Wagoner kick), 5:03
Eie - Phillips 35 pass from Kincade (Dunlap run), 9:24
Ken - Hanson 16 run (Wagoner kick), 5:11
Eie - Phillips 38 pass from Kincade (Griffith run), 2:05
First downs 8 7
Rushes-yards 46-159 31-217
Passing yards 113 96
Passing 7-14-1 2-5-0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 3-1
Penalties-yards 3-22 8-60
Rushing - Eielson: Kincade 14-48, Griffith 10-52, Dunlap 17-69, Ellsworth 5-(-10), Smith 1-1. Kenai: Hanson 14-80, Hull 11-81, 6-56.
Passing - Eielson: Kincade 7-14-1-113. Kenai: Hull 2-5-0-96.
Receiving - Eielson: Ellsworth 2-7, Phillips 2-73, Delauder 1-23, Griffith 1-6, Dunlap 1-4. Kenai: Fitzpatrick 1-37. Mendenhall 1-59.