Blair Oaks slips past California, 29-28

Blair Oaks running back Caleb Bischoff runs past California’s Allan Burger on Friday night at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

Blair Oaks running back Caleb Bischoff runs past California’s Allan Burger on Friday night at the Falcon Athletic Complex. Photo by Kris Wilson.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — It was a game befitting this great rivalry.

The Blair Oaks Falcons scored a touchdown with 43 seconds left, then converted the 2-point pass to squeak out a 29-28 win over the California Pintos on Friday night.

The game at the Falcon Athletic Complex matched up two state-ranked teams, and both squads showed why they’re worthy of that distinction.

“This was as close to a big-time playoff game as you can get,” Blair Oaks coach Brad Drehle said.

And the Falcons’ Homecoming game turned on a big-time play. Make that two big-time plays.

On the deciding drive, the Falcons went 96 yards in 4:12, with the score coming on a perfectly executed hook-and-ladder play. Quarterback Jordan Hair hit Haydn Lock for a 7-yard gain on one of his game-high eight catches, and Lock pitched it to a streaking Adam Schell, who took it the final 8 yards for the score.

The Falcons then decided to go for 2 and the win. But before they could, an illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 7-yard line.

Blair Oaks went for it anyway, and Hair hit Caleb Bischoff with a swing pass and he took it in for the winning points.

“It was one of those plays you rep and think, ‘If we need it somewhere, we’ll pull it out.’” Drehle said.

Blair Oaks’ Mikel Drehle snuffed out California’s ensuing possession with an interception that sealed the victory.

The Falcons, ranked ninth in the state in Class 2, controlled the game in the opening half and jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead.

Each team scored in the first quarter, Blair Oaks on a 39-yard pass from Hair to C.J. Closser, and California on a 1-yard run by Jaden Barr.

The Falcons then took control with two second-quarter scores, a 14-yard pass from Hair to Lock and a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Bischoff.

But the Pintos, ranked third in Class 3, ran off 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to take control. Barr had a 1-yard touchdown run and a 17-yard interception return, while Seth Fairchild had a 46-yard scoring run.

Neither team scored again until the Falcons’ winning drive.

“You can ask for anything better than that, I think everybody got their money’s worth tonight,” California coach Marty Albertson said.

The Falcons outgained the Pintos 408-274 in the contest. Blair Oaks completed 16-of-23 passes for 256 yards and carried the ball 44 times for 152 yards. California rushed 46 times for 242 yards and connected on just 2-of-12 passes for 32 yards.

The win put Blair Oaks in the driver’s seat in the Tri-County Conference race, as the Falcons are 5-1 overall and 4-0 in league play. California drops to 5-1 and 3-1.

The Falcons return to action Friday when they travel to Warsaw.

Accompanying photo: Falcons' Caleb Bischoff runs past California’s Allan Burger

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