OSAGE BEACH -- It was the momentum play the Blair Oaks Falcons desperately needed.
Facing fourth-and-goal with less than 30 seconds to play before halftime, Tyler Bax threw a dart to Hayden Lackman just across the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown. At the time, it gave the Falcons a two-touchdown cushion going into intermission.
In the end, it began a run of 36 unanswered points.
Blair Oaks dominated the second half Friday night, turning a close battle in the early going into a 56-14 rout of the School of the Osage Indians to begin Tri-County Conference play.
“We came out with a little hangover, it hurt a little bit (losing) last week,” Blair Oaks coach Ted LePage said. “We eased into the fight instead of kicking down the door.”
The Falcons never trailed, forcing a three-and-out on Osage’s first possession. Blair Oaks then went 85 yards on six plays, finishing its opening series with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Bax to Nick Closser. Nolan Laughlin added the first of his six successful extra-point tries to put the Falcons in front 7-0 with 9:13 to go in the opening quarter.
Osage fumbled inside the Blair Oaks 5-yard line on its next possession, but the Indians got the ball back and scored on a 1-yard keeper by quarterback Maverick Trusty. Brady Clark made the extra point to tie the game at 7 with 2:40 on the clock in the first quarter.
Blair Oaks running back Eli Luckett scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions. He scored on a 10-yard run on the opening play of the second quarter, then ran to the left and scored on a 15-yard run with 8:46 left in the first half to extend the Falcons’ lead to 20-7.
Osage responded with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Trusty to Issac Stark, making it a one-possession game at 20-14.
On their ensuing possession, the Falcons advanced the ball to the Indians’ 3-yard line, then Bax was sacked for an 8-yard loss on third down. After a Blair Oaks timeout, Bax whipped a pass to Lackman for an 11-yard touchdown strike with :15.3 remaining.
“Those were two sophomores making that play,” LePage said of Bax and Lackman. “We’ve got that youth on the offensive side, and boy, they got their feet wet tonight.”
Brady Kerperin added the 2-point conversion on a carry to give the Falcons a 28-14 halftime lead.
“We went into halftime saying, ‘We scored, we got what we wanted, now let’s make the adjustments,’” LePage said.
Blair Oaks scored on each of its first four possessions of the second half.
The first three scores were all touchdown passes in the third quarter. Bax connected again with Lackman for a 26-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the half, then Closser caught a 23-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone.
On the next drive, Bax found Warren Davis for a 7-yard touchdown pass that extended the lead to 49-14 and triggered the running clock with 4:10 to go in the third quarter.
Blair Oaks’ final touchdown capped a nine-play, 83-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock, ending with a 3-yard run by Jace Rackers on a pitch play to the right.
Bax threw a career-high five touchdown passes to lead the Blair Oaks offense. He completed 11-of-20 passes for 218 yards, then added 11 carries for 63 yards.
Eli Luckett had his first 100-yard rushing performance in a Falcon uniform. The senior totaled 14 carries for 106 yards and two scores.
Lackman was next with 10 carries for 72 yards, but he led the receiving game, hauling in five catches for a career-high 111 yards and two touchdowns. Closser was next with three catches for 82 yards and two scores.
Adian Williams led Osage with 23 carries for 152 yards. The rest of the Indian offense tallied 75 net yards.
Blair Oaks recorded three takeaways in the win. Ayden Luckett recovered a fumble in the first quarter, Kerperin recovered a fumble in the third quarter and Shay Linhardt snagged an interception in the fourth quarter.
“Our goal is three (takeaways) a game,” LePage said. “We got three, that was huge.”
Landon Childs recovered a fumble on a muffed punt return in the first quarter for the Indians.
Osage (0-3, 0-1 Tri-County) plays next Friday at Eldon (2-1). The Mustangs won 52-0 against Gateway.
Blair Oaks (2-1, 1-0 Tri-County), ranked No. 1 in Class 3, hosts California (2-1) next Friday. The Pintos lost 27-20 in overtime to Southern Boone.