Payton Grant, a junior wide receiver, makes a move following a reception against Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School. The Huskies won their last game against East 39-28 on Saturday, Sept. 4 at home. The two teams will play again for a state championship at Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Payton Grant, a junior wide receiver, makes a move following a reception against Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School. The Huskies won their last game against East 39-28 on Saturday, Sept. 4 at home. The two teams will play again for a state championship at Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Empire Live: Huskies play hard, fall short of title

Thunderbirds win the state championship 30-17.

9:45 p.m.: Summary — Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School tops Juneau for the Division I state title.

Juneau fought hard, but fell to East Anchorage 30-17. The Huskies never quite found their rhythm on offense, but showed a strong goal-line defense and showed their big play potential. The Thunderbirds defended the Huskies exceptionally well while performing well through the air and on the ground.

9:35 p.m.: Some trickery from East late —Johnson hands off to Delaney, who tosses it back to Johnson. With about 2 minutes left, East has the ball inside Juneau’s 35. Juneau has a potent offense, but it’s tough to see them clawing back from a 13-point deficit in 62 seconds.

9:31 p.m.: East Anchorage found itself in a second-and-30 situation with under 4 minutes remaining, but a roughing the passer penalty on Juneau helped dig East out of it. Johnson took a hard shot from junior Sam Sika on the penalized play. With about 3 minutes left in the contest, Juneau trails 30-17, and East is driving.

9:30 p.m.: The inevitable onside kick was fielded well by the East hands team. The Thunderbirds offense has the ball near the 50 with 5:02 left.

9:25 p.m.: Huskies narrow the gap. It’s now 30-17, East Anchorage. Juneau’s running game has looked solid late in the game, and the Huskies advanced the ball to the 30 with 7:30 left in the game. With driving legs and shifty moves, Soto took a screen inside East’s 20. With some misdirection, it was tough to tell, but it looked like Soto threw a TD pass off a hand-off to Williams with 5:02 left in the game, Juneau will kick off. Update: After talking to coach Rich Sjoroos, it was connally who threw the touchdown pass. —updated at 100:57 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 23

9:15 p.m.: East tried to grind out the clock with a series of runs, but Juneau stops the Thunderbirds and gets the ball back near the Huskies’ 40 with 8:53 left in the game. Chris Harris, a junior, snagged a first-down catch for the Huskies. Soto followed it up with a short rush. The Huskies won’t be going down quietly.

9:10 p.m.: The Huskies ran out of momentum, and were unable to convert on fourth-and-long. With 11:43 left in the ballgame, East will take over about midfield. A lot of rushes seem likely in the home stretch of this contest.

9:05 p.m.: Fourth quarter starts, 30-10, Thunderbirds.

East Anchorage’s kick went out of bounds, and Juneau opted to have the Thunderbirds kick again. After some trickery on the return, the Huskies started with the ball near their 40. A pass to Connally took the Huskies past midfield. The Huskies are mid-drive to start the fourth.

9 p.m.: East scores again, leads 30-10. After an onside kick, East started with the ball at their 48 with just over 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. A deep over-the-middle pas could not find a receiver, Delaney took a hand off and threw it senior Deuce Zimmerman, a wide receiver, for a first down. Amosa Sou ran hard, and put East in prime scoring position. Johnson crossed the goal line for another score. For the first time this game, the Thunderbirds failed on a 2-point conversion attempt.

8:55 p.m.: Adams drills a field goal, Juneau trails 24-10. Jarrell Williams was running hard on Juneau’s first drive of the second half. A deep shot to Connally fell incomplete, but a screen to Soto picked up a chunk of yardage for a first down. Juneau’s offense stalled out around the 30 with incomplete passes and short gains. Adams kicked a 40-plus-yard field goal with a bounce-assist from the crossbar. He’s 1-for-3 on field goal attempts in this game.

8:47 p.m.: East’s lead grows to 24-7. Thunderbirds quarterback Kyler Johnson ran in a bootleg for a rushing touchdown of about 10 yards. East leads 22-7 with 7 minutes and 52 seconds left in the third quarter. East converts for 2. Juneau will start with the ball at its 38. East’s special teams have done a good job of limiting return yardage so far.

8:40 p.m.: Adams started off the third quarter with a long kick. East was unable to get anything going, but a Juneau offside penalty turned a third-and-long into third-and-short. East was able to convert that into a first down. Johnson was able to find senior Damarion Delaney, a wide receiver, for a long gain. East has the ball near Juneau’s 10.

Halftime: 16-7, East Anchorage.

The Huskies’ offense has shown flashes, but has not found the sustained success on the ground that’s been a prominent part of their wins this season. Bettye Davis East Anchorage’s power running game has looked consistently strong, while Juneau’s defense has put up stout resistance in key situations. A pair of missed field goals and East’s good fortune in recovering the ball on fumbled snaps also help to account for the score so far.

Juneau received the ball to start the game, so East should be in line to receive to start the second half.

A Facebook commenter provided a Huskies cheer squad update, too.

8:15 p.m.: East Anchorage leads 16-7 at the half. A penalty followed by a rush for a loss start off Juneau’s drive all but necessitated a pass that fell incomplete. The Huskies called a direct snap for Soto on third-and-17. Soto gouged East for a good-sized gain, but fell short of a first down. Juneau opted to let the clock nearly run out before a sweep by Connally.

8:10 p.m.: Juneau received a short kick. The Huskies started their drive at their 35-yard line with 1:20 left in the half.

8:07 p.m.: Thunderbirds lead 16-7. East punched it in for a short score, and it was followed up by a 2-point conversion by Kyler Johnson.

8:06 p.m.: A run attempt on third-and-1 fell short, the Huskies’ defense remains stout in goal-line situations. It’s fourth-and-1 for East with 1:29 left in the half. East is looking to build on its 8-7 lead.

8:05 p.m.: East’s offense was humming with a mix of short passes and strong running. Senior Amosa Sou, a Thunderbirds running back, has looked especially dynamic. The runs set up a play-action pass that wound up dropped. Montenegro rattled off another long run. East is near the goal line with under 3 minutes in the half. East secures another fumbled snap, no lost yardage or turnover on the play.

8 p.m.: A procedural penalty pushed the Huskies back, but a trio of rushes and quick pass to Williams moved the chains for Juneau.

Direct snaps to Soto continue to prove effective for Juneau, as they have for most of the season. A couple of incompletions and good run defense led to a stalled-out offense. On fourth-and-11 inside the 20, Juneau called a timeout. Adams’ second field goal attempt misses. It’s East’s ball. Thunderbirds still lead 8-7.

7:50 p.m.: A penalty moved the Thunderbirds to their 9-yard line. On first-and-20, Juneau stood up East. On second down, the Thunderbirds picked up a few more yards, but still found themselves facing third-and-11. A pass good for first-down yardage was dropped and recovered by Juneau.

It’s the Huskies’ ball near the 30.

7:48 p.m.: Juneau scores, now trails 8-7.

Austin Johnson punted it to about the 50-yard line. The Huskies started the drive with great field position, and Soto immediately covered about 10 yards on two touches. Juneau’s rushing offense was rolling again.

Connally managed to get wide open en route to the end zone after three straight runs. Chambers chucked it a good 35 yards in the air for the score.

Adams PAT is good.

7:42 p.m.: East’s potent offense sputtered with an incomplete and a short completion. The Thunderbirds looked poised to punt before a timeout was called.

7:38 p.n.: After one quarter, East Anchorage leads Juneau 8-0.

7:36 p.m.: Juneau started its drive at about the 35. Jarrell Williams picked up about 11 yards on his first touch. Williams took a second handoff for about a yard. A deep pass to Connally fell incomplete. A penalty, and a short pass meant Juneau faced a third-and-long early in the drive. Connally rushed for a few yards, but it was well short of the first. A favorable bounce and roll on a punt gives East the ball at about the 23 with fewer than 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

7:31 p.m.: Strong rushing puts East on the board.

East Anchorage narrowly avoided a penalty for too many people on the field with a timeout. Puni Pa’u punched in a short score. He followed it up with a 2-point conversion. East Anchorage leads 8-0. Juneau will receive a kickoff with about 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

7:30 p.m.: East’s first play of the game was a run up the gut, too, for a first down. A QB keeper and another straight-ahead run put the ball near the 50 and a third-and-short position. An attempted swept fell well short of a first down. On fourth-and-short, Andrew Montenegro broke off a run of over 30 yards. East Anchorage’s QB, was able to throw away a pass on a fumbled snap and prevent a massive loss. A short run sets up a fourth and goal. East Anchorage is on Juneau’s 1-yard line.

7:25 p.m.: A short run moved Juneau past midfield, and a 15-yard penalty against East moved Juneau to about East’s 30. A Chambers’ pass was nearly picked off. A penalty backed up Juneau 5 yards to a third-and-15 situation. A short pass on third down fell short of first-down yardage, and a 43-yard attempt by Wallace Adams fell short. East has the ball.

7:15 p.m.: After a short return, Juneau started with the ball near the 30-yard line for its first drive of the game.

Juneau’s first play was a run up the middle for a 6-yard gain. After a penalty, Noah Chambers, Juneau’s quarterback, found James Connally, a wide receiver, for a solid gain and a first down. After a scramble by Chambers, Juneau has the ball just shy of midfield.

7:10 p.m.: Pre-game pomp and circumstance means the game is starting a little bit later than the 7 p.m. listed time. They’re just getting through the “Star-Spangled Banner” in Anchorage. Juneau will receive the opening kickoff.

A social media post circulating calls for a welcome home party for the returning Huskies tomorrow morning at Juneau International Airport.

6:50 p.m.: The Juneau Huskies and Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School are playing for the second time this season —and the rematch comes with elevated stakes.

The Huskies and Thunderbirds are playing for a state title tonight at Service High School. The first time the two teams met, Juneau’s unified high school team left the seesaw battle with a 39-28 victory at Adair-Kennedy Field en route to a 6-1 regular season record and Cook Inlet Conference title. It was East’s lone regular-season loss.

The Huskies have won their first two playoff games handily, dispatching both the Dimond High School Lynx and Bartlett High School Golden Bears in Saturday games at home.

The Thunderbirds won big against Service High School at home in the first round and eked out a 34-32 win in overtime against West Anchorage High School. West was the lone team to beat Juneau this year.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Service High School. The game is being streamed by the National Federation of State High School Associations network at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/asaa/gam7933092ced.