In their final road game of the regular season, the Junction City Blue Jays looked to build off the success they had in a 9-7 win over Manhattan last week. On the other side of the field, Topeka Seaman was looking to shock the Centennial League with a win on Senior Night.
Topeka worked its defensive and offense schemes enough to wiggle a 21-20 victory over the Blue Jays.
“They are a very good Seaman team,” JC coach Randall Zimmerman said. “We just did not play well. We had so many opportunities — an incredible number of opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage.”
The Blue Jays started the game with the ball after Seaman deferred to the second half.
The Vikings were prepared for Junction City as the Blue Jays were off the field in three plays, forced to punt on fourth down.
After a strong defensive showing Seaman was on and off the field after a three-and-out first possession.
The Blue Jays found the scoreboard first with 6:21 to play in the first quarter after Rooster Adams darted through the middle of the Vikings defense for a 28-yard scramble. The Jaden Kell point after kick soared through the uprights to give Junction City a 7-0 advantage.
Seaman responded just over a minute later to tie the score at 7-7, then placed another touchdown on the board with 39.3 seconds remaining in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Aaron Hamilton broke free for a 32-yard return to give the Blue Jays solid field position.
Seven plays later, Adams hooked up with Russell Wilkey in the corner of the end zone for a quick pass. The following point after kick tied the game at 14-14. This was the last score of the half as neither team was able to get anything going.
Junction City found the end zone first in the second half when Adams hooked up with Joel Nieves on a 75-yard catch and run to grab a 20-14 lead.
During the point-after attempt, flags flew as the Blue Jays were called for a false start. On the second attempt, the Vikings defense worked its way to Kell to block the kick.
The Blue Jay defense, which struggled against the run all night, allowed Seaman to place another touchdown on the board with over 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.
The point after kick was good, allowing the Vikings to take a one point lead.
Junction City moved the ball well on its next possession, on the back of a 51-yard jaunt by Nieves, but was unable to reach the end zone.
Kell’s field goal attempt soared right, giving the ball back to the Vikings on their own 10-yard line.
The Vikings then went into clock control mode as they ran the clock down on their way towards the Blue Jay side of the field.
The rushing combination dealt by the Vikings proved too difficult for the Blue Jays defensive front.
“They dominated us, that’s for sure,” Zimmerman said. “It was just lack of emotion, lack of intensity, lack of physicality, lack of competitiveness from us. I guess that falls on me.”
Zimmerman said he and the coaches talked to the players Monday about not letting the team's previous victory defeat them on the road against Seaman.
“We didn’t have school Monday so the kids weren’t able to be around the rest of the student body,” he said. “We talked to our kids about what was going to take place and that they would be congratulated all day on Tuesday and everyone is going to want to get their pictures taken with them. It lingered into Wednesday and into Thursday. We did not practice very well. We participated in practice; we did not compete to get better in practice. It was just an ongoing thing and it really, really showed up tonight. We played with such a lack of emotion.”
The Blue Jays will gear up for their final home game next Friday as Emporia will come into Al Simpler Stadium during Senior Night during the team's "Pink Out" event, which will be held in honor of breast cancer awareness.