The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 26, 2012

Halftime realizations key in Lamar's state title win

By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer

— If the first 15 minutes were any indication, it appeared the Lamar Tigers were going to roll to their second consecutive Class 2 state championship victory.

Lamar dominated the opening quarter just as it had through the first five games of the payoffs when it beat opponents by an average of score of 65-10.8.

The Tigers cruised to a 14-0 lead by scoring on their first two possessions and forcing turnovers on downs in Blair Oaks’ first three possessions.

However, the Blair Oaks Falcons didn’t go away without a fight. Blair Oaks gained the lead in the second half and traded punches with Lamar in a game that set a Show-Me Bowl record for total points and combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense.

Lamar went on to win 69-41 on Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

But the Tigers didn’t breeze to a second state title as it first appeared.

Not by a long shot.

The momentum started to turn on Lamar’s third possession of the game with the Tigers faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 40-yard line. With a 14-0 lead, Lamar elected to go for it, but quarterback Levi Petersen bobbled the snap and was stopped for no gain.

Blair Oaks quickly cashed in with a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Castillo to wide receiver Ashton Maasen on the next play to cut Lamar’s lead to 14-7 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter.

Suddenly, it was a ballgame.

The play brought Blair Oaks’ passing attack to life as Castillo completed 9 of 17 attempts for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter.

Blair Oaks outscored Lamar 21-13 in the quarter, and the Tigers clinged to a 27-21 halftime lead.

Lamar knew it needed to get the momentum back in the second half.

“At halftime, we had to do some soul searching,” Lamar coach Scott Bailey said. “We had some adversity in the first half that we hadn’t faced in a while. It was pretty emotional at halftime. There were a bunch of guys who realized that we weren’t living up to that brotherhood. And it started with me. I’ll be honest with you.”

Still, Blair Oaks continued to surge in the third quarter. The success of the passing game helped open the running game, and Derek Otto ran three times for 103 yards and a touchdown in the quarter.

The Falcons entered the final quarter with a 34-33 lead before throwing four interceptions and allowing Lamar to win the fourth quarter 36-7.

It was a game where Blair Oaks won the second and third quarters and Lamar won the first and fourth. But while the Falcons outscored the Tigers 34-19 over the second and third, Lamar dominated Blair Oaks 50-7 during the first and fourth.

The Tigers’ thunder outlasted the Falcons’ lightning.

Lamar compiled 576 yards of offense with 523 on the ground and 73 through the air. Petersen led the Tigers with 254 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries, and Jared Beshore rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Blair Oaks registered 429 yards of total offense as Castillo completed 15 of 37 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Maasen caught six balls for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a tremendous game,” Blair Oaks coach Brad Drehle said.

“It was difficult to stop them. They’re big and they grind it out.”