The Blair High School football team buried Beatrice early Friday night at Krantz Field.
Coach Bryan Soukup's Bears hammered the inside running game down the Orangemen's throats and suffocated them defensively, forcing six turnovers during a 48-20 win that couldn't have seemed that close to the parents, siblings and grandparents in attendance for Senior Night.
“We were just really prepared,” said one of those 12th-graders, BHS back Dex Larsen.
The Bears (2-1 overall) scored the game's first two touchdowns and added 28 unanswered points during the second quarter to build a 41-7 halftime lead. Larsen's fourth and final rushing touchdown came on a 42-yard gallop during the third quarter.
The rout all started from Blair's first drive on. Soukup's squad ran three run plays and earned its first first down.
Not long later, after Morgan Rump converted a fourth-down quarterback sneak, Livai Opetaia notched the game's first score on a 3-yard run.
In 3 minutes of game time, Larsen would score from 14 yards out as the Bears were well on their way.
“Me and Livai love to block for each other just as much as we love to run, and the line makes us look good,” Larsen said.
After Beatrice pulled within 13-7 on a 9-yard touchdown run by quarterback Austin Burroughs, the BHS defense started made the offense look good, too, setting it up with beneficial field position.
First, Blair senior linebacker Braden Hanson beat two Orangemen to a loose ball on a bad center snap. Opetaia capitalized on the recovery, scoring his second touchdown from nine yards out.
On the following Beatrice possession, Larsen picked off a pass, setting his team up with the ball on the Orangemen's 21-yard line. The senior found himself back in the end zone not long after for a 27-7 Blair advantage.
“Up front we're always excited when we can just run plays like that right up the middle all of the time,” senior offensive lineman Lance Hume said. “Just do what we know we do best and just pound it all the way down the field.”
Larsen added his third touchdown run of the half before another BHS senior, Nolan Osterhaus, intercepted a Beatrice pass with time running down during the first half. The home team's offense benefitted from a penalty before Rump connected with Osterhaus on a 26-yard touchdown pass with just 25.9 seconds left before the break. The score pushed the Bears' lead to 34 points less than 24 minutes into the ballgame.
The Orangemen would score twice during third quarter, but never really threatened thanks to Larsen's 42-yard jaunt and the Bears' defense, which collected three more turnovers over the second 24 minutes. Kip Tupa intercepted a long pass down the far sideline, senior Jake Stirek fell on a fumble and Lance Acker, another 12th-grader, picked off the final Beatrice throw of the game — which also happened to be the final play of the Bears' 48-20 victory.
“It felt great, especially on Senior Night,” Acker said. “It's pretty much all you can ask for.”