ASHLAND — It was just what the Blair Oaks Falcons needed as the postseason nears: a grueling 48 minutes of football.
The Blair Oaks offense scored often enough in the first half to take the upper hand, while the defense yielded just three touchdowns against 84 offensive plays from the Southern Boone Eagles.
The clash of the two state-ranked opponents ended Friday night with No. 4 Blair Oaks outlasting No. 9 Southern Boone for a 42-21 victory.
"This is a team that doesn't beat themselves," Blair Oaks coach Ted LePage said of Southern Boone. "They play good, hard-nosed football, and they just keep coming."
I’m in Ashland tonight for a Class 3 state-ranked battle between No. 4 @BlairOaks_1 (6-1) and No. 9 Southern Boone (4-2). The Falcons wrap up their pregame routine with their usual touchdown pass into the corner of the end zone. Nico Canale caught tonight’s pass. #mopreps pic.twitter.com/ziQ8xueIM0— Greg Jackson (@actionjaxon05) October 16, 2020
Blair Oaks forced a turnover on downs deep in its own territory to start the game, then the offense just needed four plays to find the end zone. On third-and-9, Dylan Hair threw downfield and found Jake Closser for a 61-yard touchdown. Zach Herigon added the first of four extra points to make the score 7-0 with 7:16 left in the opening quarter.
Hair finished 14-of-23 passing for 210 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Closser, who caught all three touchdown passes, finished with six catches for 127 yards.
"Jake's going to make his plays, Dylan's going to make his plays," LePage said. "Overall, the offense clicked very well tonight."
Closser intercepted a pass on Southern Boone's next drive, setting up a short field for the Falcons at the Southern Boone 35-yard line. Hair scored on a 3-yard run to make the score 14-0.
Southern Boone had a 13-play drive come up empty, and Blair Oaks answered with a 10-play, 78-yard drive that ended with Hair connecting on a 19-yard pass with Closser in the back of the end zone. That extended the Falcons' lead to 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
Things were going smoothly for the Falcons up to that point, but Southern Boone wouldn't go away. Facing fourth-and-goal, quarterback Chase Schupp released a pass before taking a big hit, and Nik Post leaped and made a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard grab. Bradly Smith added the extra point, cutting the Blair Oaks lead to 21-7.
"They really made some great plays tonight," LePage said. "There were some things tonight that just went their way, and they made it go their way."
The Falcons then scored on their fourth straight possession, as Hair ran the ball inside the left pylon for a 6-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, leaving Blair Oaks with a 27-7 lead at halftime.
Southern Boone recovered a squib kick to start the second half and stole the momentum with a 3-yard touchdown run by Schupp. That made the score 27-14 early in the third quarter.
The Eagles had an opportunity to cut the Blair Oaks lead to single digits, but Alec Wieberg intercepted a pass from Schupp.
Blair Oaks responded with a touchdown, this time on a 34-yard shovel pass from Hair to Closser. That pushed the lead back to 20 at 34-14.
Schupp scored on a 2-yard run in the final second of the third quarter, and the Eagles had another opportunity to get within one touchdown in the fourth, but the Blair Oaks defense forced a punt, and then the offense put the game away.
Jayden Purdy scored on a 9-yard touchdown run, then recovered a loose ball in the end zone on the 2-point conversion to push the lead back to three scores at 42-21 with 8:44 to play.
The Blair Oaks defense got two more turnovers on downs to finish the game.
"Overall, I thought we played a consistently good football game," LePage said.
Although Southern Boone dominated time of possession, the Eagles were outgained by the Falcons 384-332.
Hair added 119 yards rushing on 12 carries for the Falcons, giving him 329 total yards in the win.
Southern Boone (4-3, 2-1 Tri-County) attempted 42 passes and 42 runs in the loss. Alex Switzer had 20 carries for 80 yards, while Schupp had 140 yards of 15-of-34 passing.
Blair Oaks clinched at least a share of the Tri-County Conference title with Friday's win, making it six straight conference titles for the Falcons.
"The first goal is to be the conference champs," LePage said. "We at least have a share of it, but we don't want to share anything. We want to be the outright champions."
To do that, Blair Oaks (7-1, 5-0 Tri-County) needs a win next Friday at home against School of the Osage (3-5, 2-3). The Indians won Friday against Versailles 43-21.