The Boonville Pirates football team hoped that Mother Nature would be the equalizer against the No. 2 ranked Blair Oaks Falcons Friday night in the Tri-County Conference opener for both teams.
With the Falcons coming in as a heavy favorite against the Pirates, the constant rain throughout the contest wasn’t enough to even the playing field as Blair Oaks raced out to a 19-0 halftime lead and never looked back for a convincing 31-0 victory.
While the Pirates dropped to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the TCC, head coach Greg Hough said he knows it sounds crazy when you look at the scoreboard but the kids fought and they battled.
“We’re getting better, but the difference in the game is where they work making one guy miss or breaking some tackles and we couldn’t do it on our end,” Hough said. “Blair Oaks is good. That quarterback is awesome. He is one of those slippery type kids like a Johnny Manziel. If you watched him tonight he looked like Johnny Manziel versus Alabama. But that’s a good team, they block really good in space and they got on the edge against us. Their coaching staff didn’t do anything special by pulling lineman, it was just the wide receivers blocking our guys. We have to fight back and get off that stuff. But like I said we can play with that team and that’s no disrespect to Blair Oaks.”
Of course the Falcons also had something to prove in their home opener. After beating the Maryville Spoofhounds-the Class 3 defending champions-in the season opener 38-35 and winning 48-0 in Week 2 against Oak Grove, Blair Oaks showed its fans what they were missing after moving the ball 71 yards on 17 plays down to the Boonville 15 on their opening drive.
The only problem is that Blair Oaks turned the ball over via a fumble. Senior linebacker Landon Weaver pounced on the ball to thwart the threat. However it only took three plays before the Pirates were punting the ball back to Blair Oaks.
Meanwhile, after taking over after the punt at the Boonville 28, the Falcons wasted little time getting the ball in the end zone. Six plays to be exact as junior running back Riley Lentz hit paydirt from the 2 with 11:36 left in the half to make it 7-0.
The Falcons also showed flashes on defense by forcing another punt by Boonville on its next possession. Then, after taking over at their own 39, Blair Oaks found the end zone again only two minutes later on a 1-yard run by senior Braydan Pritchett to extend the lead to 13-0.
The Pirates had their chances, though. Aside from punting the ball on their first two possessions, Boonville missed a golden opportunity to put the ball in the end zone on the third drive when junior quarterback Nick Ferrari found an open receiver behind the secondary. Unfortunately for Boonville, the wet ball slipped through the receivers grasp  and resulted in a punt two plays later.
It went from bad to worse after that as Blair Oaks recovered a Boonville fumble on the ensuing kick off at the Pirates 32. Six plays later after moving the ball to the 15, senior quarterback Nolan Hair hit senior receiver Ben Thomas on a pump and go for the touchdown with 5:32 left to make it 19-0.
Of course special teams was probably the only thing the Falcons struggled with all night while missing a PAT due to a bad snap on their second touchdown and then failing to score on a two-point conversion on the third.
But even then the Falcons still managed to rack up 11 first downs and 199 yards in total offense in the first half compared to only four first downs and 41 yards of offense for Boonville.
“We had self-inflicted wounds and bad habits and we still have to break those,” Hough said. “I knew we had to be perfect coming into the game and we weren’t. But I still think the weather was a great equalizer. It took away a lot of stuff that they like to do and it took a lot of stuff away that we like to do, but for the first half we missed opportunities and they got some opportunities.”
Needless to say the opportunities continued to magnify itself for the Falcons in the second half.
While the opening drive of the second half would tell a lot about the Pirates, Blair Oaks all but derailed any comeback attempt by scoring for the fourth time in the game. The 65-yard drive took only eight plays and was capped off by a 27 yard pass from Hair to Thomas with 9:20 left to push the lead to 25-0.
As for Boonville, they went three and out on their first drive of the second half and then threw a pick on the second. Neither resulted in a score by Blair Oaks, who also had the case of the turnover bug with fumbles on its next-two possessions.
Seniors Brandon Johnson and Dylan Watson recovered the two fumbles. But like most of the first half, the Pirates failed to take advantage of the miscues with stalled drives that resulted in punts. Then, after taking over at their own 28 with 9:46 left in the game, Blair Oaks hit paydirt for the fifth time in the game on a 56-yard run by Pritchett to extend the lead to 31-0.
Hough said his team learned a lesson as a team that they have to play as a team and do that in all phases. “When we get beat defensively, it’s alignment and assignment mistakes or it’s a missed tackles,” Hough said. “We have to do it as a team and we have to keep fighting and keep battling. We’ll live for another day. I really feel like we went through a gauntlet against Pleasant Hill in Week 1 and Blair Oaks in Week 3 and my big thing is just believe in me and believe in what we are doing.”
Blair Oaks finished the game with 16 first downs along with 289 yards rushing and another 105 passing for a total of 394. Boonville, meanwhile, had eight first downs and 91 yards rushing and 4 yards passing for a total of 95.
On an individual note, Pritchett led all rushers for Blair Oaks with 13 carries for 108 yards and two scores while Lentz had 19 carries for 93 yards and one touchdown. Hair also had 16 carries for 60 yards while completing 7 of 13 passes for 105 yards. Ben Thomas  was the leading receiver for the Falcons with four catches for 53 yards.
For Boonville, Avian Thomas rushed 28 times for 85 yards while Nick Ferrari and Jamesian McKee combined to complete 2 of 8 passes for 4 yards. Ferrari also had the only reception for the Pirates for 4 yards.