Osage football wears down Versailles for win on Homecoming night

MICHAEL LOSCH, Lake Sun Sports Editor
Osage junior Keigan Vaughn (22) celebrates his 41-yard touchdown reception with senior Drew Elley (left) in a game against Versailles on Friday, October 16, in Osage Beach. Vaughn led the Indian receiving corps with six catches for 98 yards.

School of the Osage and Versailles traded blows early on in a Tri-County County Conference battle Friday night. 

But the Indians had the stamina and it led to a 43-21 win over their Lake area neighbors on Homecoming night. 

Osage and Versailles each scored on their first two possessions and both sides converted a 2-point conversion to make it a 15-15 tie at the end of the first quarter. However, the Indians stayed consistent, pushing their lead to 29-15 by halftime, and the defense locked in only allowing one more score the rest of the night. 

“The first two series Versailles came out and played very well, executed well and we probably blitzed ourselves out of positioning,” Osage coach Devin Johnson said, noting how the unit adjusted to playing a base defense and rallied to the ball while containing quarterback Adam Radcliff and trying to prevent him from gaining the edge.  

“The thing I’m proud about our defense is that once we made those adjustments, we only gave up six points in the last 40 minutes of the game or so.” 

And while Osage’s adjustments certainly helped to get the job done, fatigue may have also played a factor for the visitors as well. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Tigers were missing five starters Friday night and 16 players on the roster overall. In fact, the scheduled junior varsity game on Monday will not be taking place due to those concerns and the Indians will be visiting Boonville instead.  

But that did not stop Versailles from getting off to a quick start and responding to the early blows Osage delivered. Versailles coach Kirk Hannah and his staff simply encouraged having fun, given the circumstances, and that is exactly what it looked like the team was doing. 

“It is hard, but I told them that nobody is going to feel sorry for us so let’s just go out and play and just go have fun. Coach (Aaron) Allen even told them in pregame that it is just like backyard football,” Hannah remarked. “There are no rules and you just go out, play and have fun as kids and that is what we want you to do tonight. That is what we did early and we started to run out of gas before halftime. We were ok most of the third quarter and just kind of ran out of juice. 

“I’m so proud of our kids. Man, they just battled and I told them a lot of teams probably would have said we are missing too many and we are not going to take a chance and go play. Our guys wanted to come play.” 

Osage wasted little time finding the end zone as sophomore running back Eric Hood found a hole and dashed 64 yards to the house on the first play of the game to put the Indians up 7-0. The sophomore added a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and finished his night with 15 carries for 105 yards. 

“It is so fun. Running behind that offensive line, they are just so fun to run behind,” said Hood who eclipsed the century mark running the football for the third straight game. “They opened up so many holes and allowed me to do what I do and work.” 

Starting to carry the football in the latter half of the season, the sophomore has made the most of his opportunities entering Friday night’s game with 479 rushing yards and four touchdowns in just three games. The Indians finished Friday night with 351 rushing yards overall as senior running back Jackson Creasy led the way with 131 yards and a score on 14 carries while junior quarterback Brockton McLaughlin added 98 yards and a touchdown on six carries of his own.

“He (Hood) is another weapon and you cannot have enough weapons, it makes it fun. When you have Eric, Brockton and Jack in the backfield, it is three guys who all have different styles and all run a little bit differently,” Johnson pointed out. “Two of them rely more on speed and one is more of a downhill runner so you cannot really key on one of them. That makes it fun, offensively, because we can run our option stuff and it can go to either one of them. Up front, too, I thought we played pretty well and have all year. Our offensive line is probably one of the strengths of our group. 

“But not taking anything away from Versailles. After that first play, they did a good job of eliminating the big plays, made us earn what we got and drive the ball.”

Versailles answered right back, needing just over three minutes for the senior field general Radcliff to find senior receiver Michael Bell for a 32-yard touchdown pass. After McLaughlin found junior wideout Keigan Vaughn for a 19-yard touchdown strike on the ensuing drive and sophomore Konner Vaughn hit senior Sam Keim for two points on a botched extra point, the Tigers responded with a 3-yard touchdown run from Radcliff on 4th-and goal just before the end of the first quarter. He also delivered a 2-point conversion to tie it at 15.

But that is where Osage pulled ahead for good as Creasy ran in a 2-yard score to give the Indians three straight scoring drives to start the night and the Tigers had the first of five three-and-outs in the 10 possessions they had for the game. Another connection between McLaughlin and Vaughn, this time for a 41-yard touchdown pass, gave the Indians some cushion at the break. 

“The corner was playing soft on me so I knew I could find a way to get around him. The first one, I got behind him and just ran across the field and he hit me wide open so that was a good play,” said Vaughn who led the receiving corps with six catches for 98 yards. “The second one, I know of got hit, had to recover and he threw another dart right to me. 

“We have a lot of good chemistry. Over the last few months we’ve really bonded, everyone has, on the offensive side of the ball.”

The thing Johnson enjoyed about the connection between McLaughlin and Vaughn Friday night was the ability to extend plays when there may have been nothing there originally. 

“He is a good player and the thing Keigan did such a great job of tonight was that Brock was extending plays by staying or moving in the pocket and he did a good job of finding soft spots in those zones,” the coach stated. “He continued to constantly move to where he wasn’t covered and Brock was able to look down field after he escaped.”

Looking to score before the clock hit zero at the half, Versailles was stymied near midfield as Creasy delivered back-to-back sacks on the defensive end. The first possession of the third quarter also turned up empty-handed for Versailles with a turnover on downs after the Tigers reached Osage’s 45 yard line. The team found the end zone just once more when senior running back Ben Dornan ran in a 1-yard halfback toss at the start of the fourth quarter. 

“Our big guys got tired,” Hannah said, referring to his offensive line as his team finished with 200 total yards of offense on the night. “Some of our guys had to go both ways and we did not have that depth. We couldn’t substitute and their legs left them a little bit.” 

Radcliff finished 12-23 through the air for 101 yards and also led the ground attack with 20 carries for 86 yards. Bell recorded 10 catches for 74 yards while junior Kole Viebrock added a 14-yard catch and senior Ty Chamberlain hauled in a 13-yard pass. Meanwhile, Dornan finished his night with 10 carries for 14 yards.  

After Hood’s touchdown run in the third quarter, Osage’s final score of the night came midway through the final frame as McLaughlin dashed down the sideline for 58 yards on the first play of the drive. McLaughlin also completed nine of his 11 passes on the night for 152 yards as the Indians racked up 503 total yards of offense overall, despite three turnovers that came on fumbles from Hood and Creasy and a McLaughlin pass that was intercepted by Bell. 

“McLaughlin is a really good player and they are big up front and we’re not on our defensive line. We put a little pressure on him, but we could not contain him and he gets back there, has a great arm, throws a great ball and then those guys get open and know how to get open,” Hannah said of trying to slow down the Indians. “We just could not cover that long so they found some open receivers. They are solid up front, run the ball enough and are good enough at it they can keep the clock and chains moving.”

Versailles (0-5, 0-3 TCC) will look to wrap up the regular season next week at Eldon (1-5, 0-4 TCC). The Mustangs were unable to play Friday night at Boonville due to coronavirus concerns, missing their second game of the season.

“We’ll see if everybody is healthy enough. I know we were looking forward to it and I hope they are, too,” Hannah said. “I hope they are healthy and get their kids back and that is always a good battle. It is 15 minutes down the road so our kids look forward to going there and playing. It is a team a lot like us so what we are hoping for is a great game and hopefully we can get one this time.” 

Osage (3-5, 2-3 TCC) will visit Blair Oaks (7-1, 5-0 TCC) for its regular season finale next week and the Indians are hoping to get at least one more home game in the district playoffs, depending on how the final standings play out. If this was the last home game, Johnson certainly enjoyed the environment on Homecoming night. 

“It was good to have our crowd and I thought we had a tremendous crowd here for Homecoming. We’ve been fortunate to play in an area where we’re not restricting crowd size and we’re having families that come and get to watch the kids,” the coach noted. “The atmosphere at our game feels like normal, which is awesome to me. There are teams coming in and it is unique for them because they are not able to have this.” 

Regardless of how things play out, the Falcons should be a good test right before the playoffs. 

“It all starts with their quarterback. Their quarterback is a dominant player and is really good,” Johnson said of returning All-State player Dylan Hair. “The receivers are tall and athletic and defensively, they are fast and very physical. They are able to play multiple players in different spots and are able to handle them. They are well-coached, disciplined and a good football team.”