Blair Oaks stays focused in victory against Seaman

Joey Wilde of Blair Oaks (right) sprints to the end zone to return a kickoff for a touchdown during Friday night’s game against Seaman (Kan.) at the Falcon Athletic Complex in Wardsville. (Garrett Bradley/News Tribune)

WARDSVILLE -- It was far from an ideal start for the Blair Oaks Falcons.

Blair Oaks lost a fumble on its first play from scrimmage, then the Seaman Vikings scored a touchdown on their first play on offense.

“It was reminiscent of Lutheran North,” Blair Oaks coach Ted LePage said of the start to the game.

But that’s why football games last 48 minutes, not 20 seconds.

In a contest that hurriedly turned into a track meet, the Falcons answered quickly and tallied seven touchdowns before halftime. Blair Oaks crossed the finish line first, dominating its way to a 63-28 victory against Seaman at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

“We were savvy, our players were never rattled,” LePage said. “Against Lutheran North, we were afraid to make mistakes. Tonight, you saw us make some mistakes early, and all of a sudden, we started making plays.”

Wide receiver Callen Barta caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Max Huston on Seaman’s first offensive play. Ethan Geiger added the extra point to put the Vikings in front 7-0 just 16 seconds into the game.

Blair Oaks quickly answered with a six-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Eli Luckett. Nolan Laughlin made the first of his nine successful extra-point tries to tie the game with 10:05 remaining in the first quarter.

“You have to give credit to our offensive line,” LePage said. “With that 3-3 (defense), they were coming from everywhere. They blocked their areas.”

A total of seven touchdowns were scored in the first quarter.

Seaman scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Huston to Bryer Finley to retake the lead, then Blair Oaks responded with back-to-back touchdowns. Tyler Bax threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Nick Closser, then Bax faked a handoff and ran into the end zone for a 29-yard keeper to put Blair Oaks in front 21-14 with 2:58 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Vikings were able to tie the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Huston, but two special teams plays quickly turned the tide of the game into Blair Oaks’ favor.

Joey Wilde ran back the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, tying Derek Shikles for the longest kickoff return in program history.

Kicker Nolan Laughlin then got the next kickoff to bounce backward at the 1-yard line and stop from going into the end zone for a touchback, pinning Seaman inside the 10-yard line on a drive that ended with a missed 40-yard field-goal attempt.

“That was real exciting,” LePage said. “It was 21-21, there was life, you could feel momentum on their side. And that just took the momentum back.”

Bax wrapped up a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. Following a Seaman punt, Luckett scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to push the Falcon lead to 42-21 with 1:41 to go before halftime.

On the Vikings’ next possession, Finley caught a pass across the middle and Blair Oaks’ Sam Closser sneaked behind him and knocked the ball loose. Nick Closser, his older brother, scooped up the ball and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown, giving the Falcons a touchdown in all three phases in the first half.

That touchdown came with 1:18 to go before halftime. The Vikings tried to find the end zone when Huston broke loose for a long run on the final play of the half. However, Wilde tracked down the Seaman quarterback inside the 10-yard line and Nick Closser helped tackle Huston at the 1-yard line, keeping the score at 49-21 heading into intermission.

Hayden Lackman caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Bax, one play after Brady Kerperin intercepted a pass from Huston. Kerperin capped the Falcon scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run, giving Blair Oaks six unanswered touchdowns and a 63-21 lead with 1:46 to play in the third quarter.

Huston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Holden Finley with :06 remaining for the Vikings’ final touchdown. Huston had 15 carries for 119 yards and completed 17-of-32 passes for 200 yards, totaling four touchdowns.

“They were so effective offensively, we knew that coming into the game,” LePage said. “It was going to be a really big test for us.”

Barta, who has committed to play next season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, finished with seven catches for 108 yards.

Bax ended the game with 18 rushes for 117 yards and completed 8-of-11 passes for 144 yards, totaling four touchdowns to lead the Falcon offense.

Luckett added eight carries for 59 yards, while Nick Closser had three carries for 45 yards and two catches for 65 yards. Lackman caught two passes for 42 yards.

Seaman (2-3), a Class 5A school from Topeka, Kan., was playing its first game in program history against an out-of-state team. The Vikings host Leavenworth (2-3) at 7 p.m. next Friday.

Blair Oaks (5-1), ranked No. 1 in Class 3, returns to Tri-County Conference play next Friday against Eldon (2-4), which lost 75-49 to Southern Boone.

The Falcons’ Homecoming game against the Mustangs kicks off at 7 p.m.