BOONVILLE -- When Blair Oaks senior offensive lineman Cole Peters emerged from the locker room, the T-shirt he was wearing summed up the Falcons’ 56-27 Tri-County Conference win against the Boonville Pirates.
“Run the (darn) ball.”
The Falcons saw little reason to put the ball in the air Friday night, averaging nearly a first down per carry. The Blair Oaks offense totaled 428 yards rushing and scored all eight touchdowns on the ground at Gene Reagan Field.
“Our O-line blocked really well,” Peters said. “Our running backs, even when they got hit, they just kept going.
“We just kept blocking, we just kept pushing forward.”
Blair Oaks had four rushing plays on its first possession. Quarterback Tyler Bax had carries of 19, 8 and 7 yards, then Eli Luckett scored on a 3-yard run, his first of four rushing touchdowns to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 8:00 to go in the first quarter.
The Falcons ran the ball on each of their first seven plays on their next offensive series, which started on their own 2-yard line. The 98-yard drive ended with an 10-yard touchdown run by Jace Rackers.
“We had our set of plays we started with, and we saw that on some of our run plays, we just kept getting 4, 6 or 8 yards every time,” Peters said. “We just kept doing it and they didn’t have an answer for it.”
Blair Oaks finished the game with 43 rushing attempts, compared to just seven passing attempts. The Falcons did not have a negative play until a kneel down with :18 remaining on the game’s final play.
“As long as we were running the ball like that, I was not going to put it in the air,” Blair Oaks coach Ted LePage said. “Why do it?”
In the end, Blair Oaks had three players reach 100 yards rushing.
Bax led the way with 18 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Luckett finished with 137 yards on 13 carries and running back Hayden Lackman got to the century mark on the nose on his last of eight carries.
“It’s awesome seeing them run for that much,” Peters said. “Running into the end zone with them, there’s no better feeling.”
With three 100-yard rushers, LePage said the credit belongs to the offensive line of Peters, Carson Rustemeyer, Justin Koetting, Zach Bonnett and Kaden Schulte, who was filling in for an injured Justin Atnip.
“What a tremendous job of blocking up front,” LePage said. “There were so many times that we were running up an A gap, and that’s not our forte. On the headphones, there were times where (the coaches) asked, ‘What should we do?’ ‘Well, let’s run it up the A gap.’”
Luckett scored on a 5-yard run in the second quarter, then Blair Oaks scored four times in the third quarter to build a 49-21 advantage. Bax scored on runs of 2, 1 and 11 yards, while Luckett added a 17-yard touchdown run.
Bax had six carries of 10-plus yards, while Luckett had five and Lackman added four.
“We were downhill running,” LePage said. “We’ve been a scat team. This week, we changed and went to more of a handoff, and it messed with the deception of how they could read (the play).
“We had three different options on almost every play, and they never knew who had the ball.”
Luckett finished the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown run on his final carry with 5:20 to play in the fourth quarter.
Another reason for Blair Oaks’ success in the running game is Boonville’s defense lined up in a 3-3 stack, the second straight week the Falcons saw that defense.
“It’s a very unique defense, but it also gives you angles on blockers,” LePage said. “Our offensive line, they worked their angles. When you’re going against a 3-3, you’re blocking an area and you have to go to that area.”
Even with a minimal passing game, Bax still completed 6-of-7 passes for 74 yards.
“We’ve got 11 guys on offense that can all do their jobs,” Peters said. “We can get yards passing, running, anything.”
Boonville had a big game offensively as well, finishing with 392 total yards.
Most of those yards were credited to senior wide receiver Dakota Troost, who caught nine passes for 223 yards.
“He’s dynamic, that kid is special,” LePage said. “We were double-teaming him, there were times when we were bracketing him and he was finding ways to make plays.”
Troost had three touchdown receptions. His first score was a 68-yard catch-and-run that tied the game at 7 in the first quarter.
Early in the second half, Troost brought the Pirates within one possession of the Falcons with a 75-yard touchdown catch that cut the Blair Oaks lead to 28-21. Then, when the game was out of reach, Troost hauled in a 27-yard touchdown on the opening play of the four quarter.
“This guy is going to find a way to score two or three touchdowns,” LePage said. “What we had to do was score more points than they did.”
LePage said the Falcons switched from a four-man defensive front to a three-man front, using the extra player to double-team Troost.
The Pirates countered by having running back Eli Stock carry the ball 30 times for 80 yards.
“That was smart (on their part),” LePage said. “When there are three guys in the box, run it. Every yard he got, he earned, because he got hit hard.”
Boonville also did everything it could to keep its offense on the field, often using almost all of the 40-second play clock between snaps. The Pirates took 32 minutes, 22 seconds off the game clock with 69 offensive plays.
“We had to take some heat off our defense,” LePage said.
The Pirates added to their time of possession by recovering three of their five onside kicks.
“We had our best players up there,” LePage said. “It’s hard, that ball bounced funny sometimes.”
Clayton Schuster, Alex McDonald and Langston Hall each recovered on onside kick, but Boonville failed to score on any of those three ensuing possessions.
“That’s three more opportunities that they had,” LePage said, “and we held them to 27 (points).”
Blair Oaks is 3-1 all-time in road games against Boonville.
“This is a unique place to play, this is a great home-field advantage they have here,” LePage said.
Boonville (1-4, 0-3 Tri-County) plays Friday at California. The Pintos (3-2, 1-2 Tri-County) are coming off a 17-14 victory at School of the Osage.
Blair Oaks (4-1, 3-0 Tri-County), ranked No. 1 in Class 3 in the Missouri Media Rankings, will host its first meeting against Seaman (2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
Seaman, a Class 5A school from Topeka Kan., lost 28-21 on Friday to Lansing, Kan.
“It’s a win-win situation for us,” LePage said. “With the playoff system the way it is, we’ll get bonus points for playing them, and they’ve got a guy that’s going to the University of Nebraska.
“We played Lutheran North earlier, and here’s a chance to prove yourself against a bigger school.”