Damarion Sellers (10)  TJ Jones (2) and Tyree Holloway (16)

In this file photo, Damarion Sellers (10) and TJ Jones (2) celebrate with Tyree Holloway (16) after scoring a touchdown at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka in Junction City’s season-opening win over Topeka High on Sept. 2. The Blue Jays got their second win of the season on Friday at Seaman.

Pressure was mounting for Seaman as Junction City scored a touchdown to take a 26-19 lead on the first possession in overtime. It was the first time the Blue Jays held the lead in the game.

The Vikings ran quarterback Camden Barta on an option to the right to start their first possession in overtime. Junction City senior linebacker Keghan McConnell broke through on a blitz and had a straight path to Barta, tackling the Seaman quarterback from behind, causing him to fumble. The ball rolled about 10 yards the field toward midfield and senior linebacker Jaylen Holloway picked up the ball to secure the win for the Blue Jays as the opposing sideline stormed onto the field in celebration.

That was the big play that sealed the comeback road victory for the Blue Jays (2-1).

In the first half, Junction City forced a field goal after Seaman got the ball inside the 10-yard line. The hosts had gotten up 6-0 and, in the final minute of the second quarter, Seaman got a big throw on a 3rd and 18 that got them to the 1- yard line, but Junction City’s defense held strong to avoid the touchdown.

Head coach Randall Zimmerman praised the overall defensive effort in the game.

“Huge defense inside the 10 (yard line) – huge defense,” Zimmerman said. “All night long. Three field goals in the first half, and they had it deep every time. Absolutely the best (defensive performance) on the year.”

Junior running back TJ Jones had a monstrous second half for the Blue Jays. He had multiple big plays in the second half including a 17-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at 9-9 to give Junction City its first touchdown of the game.

“(TJ) started listening. He started running the scheme as it needed to be ran,” Zimmerman said. “He was trying to bounce everything in the second half. He was just getting vertical, and it is a big difference. We had a couple of trap plays that were wide open and we ran them too wide. Just little things like that. They are young. They are trying to make the home run play every single snap.”

Junction City was able to produce offensively much better in the second half than in the first half. The big play did not happen for the Blue Jays in the first half, but the offense found its groove in the second half and big plays came.

“I think our kids just started executing better in the second half,” Zimmerman said. “We were in tough situations where we had to throw the ball and stuff. We just got to keep getting the experience. We are just incredibly young. Second half, our kids just really played, and they let it all out on the line and good things happened.”

After the Blue Jays tied the game, Seaman responded with a big play off a screen pass that turned into a 50-plus yard touchdown play.

Along with Jones’ monstrous second half, senior quarterback David Rowell stepped up his play as well. Other than an interception in the fourth quarter after trying to force a ball on a long pass play on a fourth down attempt, he had two rushing touchdowns – including the game winning touchdown from inside the 5-yard line.

He also scrambled on a passing play on a 4th and 6 when he could not find an open receiver to keep the game alive for Junction City which led to a rushing touchdown for him from inside the 20-yard line to tie the game at 19 with 54 seconds remaining.

For a young, talented team, getting a win in a close game like this in which the Blue Jays never led in regulation will do big things down the road as a confidence booster according to Zimmerman.

“We grew up so much tonight,” Zimmerman said. “It is so pleasing the way it happened. We just kept battling and battling. No matter what the situation is, we aren’t out of it. That is what we preach to our kids: just keep battling and good things will happen. They really played hard for sure. This is such a huge win for us.”

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