By Todd Fertig
Seaman put together a drive in the waning minutes of its final regular-season contest Friday night, going 64 yards for a game-winning touchdown to beat Piper High School 28-21 at Seaman.
With two touchdowns already to his credit, Seaman receiver Bryer Finley raced across the end zone to give quarterback Max Huston a target. Huston delivered a strike to Finley with 36 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
Having suffered three close losses, the Vikings were relieved to end the regular season at 4-4.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of our kids, how happy I am for them,” Seaman coach Jared Swafford said. “They keep showing up every day, continue to work really, really hard and believing in what we’re doing. So, for them to be on the right side of one of those for a change against a good team is a good feeling.”
The Vikings led 14-0 late in the second quarter. But when Seaman fumbled deep at their own end of the field with 40 seconds remaining in the half, a door opened for the Pirates. Piper scored with just 5 seconds left on the clock to go to halftime trailing just 14-7.
The momentum shifted at that point, putting the Vikings on their heels.
Piper scored early in the fourth period to tie the game 14-14.
Finley scored his second touchdown – a 53-yard catch and run – a few minutes later to put Seaman back in the lead, but a blocked extra point gave Piper the momentum again.
With just 3:17 left, Piper took the lead 21-20 on a touchdown and extra point.
As the clocked ticked down, Huston engineered an 11-play drive that chewed up most of the time and culminated on his pass to Finley in the end zone. On the drive, Huston completed eight of 10 passes.
“Think about a kid and how far he’s come in just a couple of years of being a starting quarterback,” Swafford said. “The strides he’s made, trusting his guys to go make plays. We had some guys do some phenomenal things tonight, and (Huston) was very poised and did what he needed to do to help lead us.”
Finley said that, despite losing three games by a touchdown or less, the Vikings didn’t panic when they trailed late.
“We have confidence in our team,” Finley said. “(Huston) steps up. He puts pressure on the defense, and he makes plays. He was getting me the ball, and we just clicked as a team.”
The Vikings struggled to generate any yardage running the ball – they finished with just 17 yards on 21 carries – and had to rely on Huston’s arm. The junior quarterback completed 29 of 42 throws for 370 yards. Finley caught 11 passes for 132 yards and three scores. Callen Barta caught eight of Huston’s throws for 138 yards and a touchdown. Finley’s brother, Holden Finley, added seven catches for 92 yards.
The Viking defense created six turnovers. Seaman defensive backs intercepted five passes, with Barta claiming two of those.
Bryer Finley said that working against the Seaman defense in practice sharpens the Vikings’ own passing game.
“Our defensive backs are tough players,” Finley said. “We go to battle every day to make each other better. Our defense was clicking tonight.”
The Vikings will learn their playoff opponent on Saturday. Swafford admitted finishing the regular season with a victory was important.
“To say it’s huge is probably an understatement,” Swafford said. “For our guys to find a way at the end, when we were down, is just phenomenal.”
SEAMAN 28, PIPER 21
Piper (4-4, 4-3) 0 7 0 14 -- 21
Seaman (4-4, 4-3) 7 7 0 14 -- 28
Seaman – Barta 76 pass from Huston (Geiger kick)
Seaman – B. Finley 10 pass from Huston (Geiger kick)
Piper – Collette 10 pass from Bakarich (Kirgan kick)
Piper – Henson 18 run (Kirgan kick)
Seaman – B. Finley 53 pass from Huston (kick failed)
Piper – Little 8 run (Kirgan kick)
Seaman – B. Finley 11 pass from Huston (Geiger kick)
Rushing -- Piper: McDaniel 5-55, Slaughter 1-5, Jarrett 3-12, Henson 1-18, Pudenz 5-25, Bakarich 7-20, Little 2-11. Seaman: Bloom 10-19, Huston 8-(minus)2, Tootle 3-0.
Passing -- Piper: Bakarich 17-37-4 228 yards, Jarrett 0-2-1 0 yards. Seaman: Huston 29-42-0 370 yards, Bloom 0-1-1 0 yards.
Receiving -- Piper: Little 1-7, Pudenz 5-41, Kerr 1-9, Collette 3-34, McDaniel 2-18, Damron 2-39, Jarrett 3-80. Seaman: B. Finley 11-132, Barta 8-138, Kobuszewski 3-8, H. Finley 7-92.
Punting -- Piper: Kirgan 5-30.2. Seaman: Berg 6-31.5.