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Kowboys shake off rust with 35-21 win

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 11:55 pm

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
You’ll forgive Osceola if they were a little antsy to get the football season restarted Friday after a two-week layoff forced by Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Kowboy blew in from the opening kickoff, as Osceola (3-0) forced three first-half turnovers and used a handful of big plays to build an early lead and cruise to a 35-21 win over Rockledge. The game didn’t even come about until the two teams reached each other Monday.
A little sloppy themselves on offense, the Kowboys forced five turnovers total, including two Jaleal Maloney interceptions. He returned one 100 yards for a back-breaking touchdown as Rockledge (0-2) was driving toward a score prior to halftime.
“I knew we needed a big play to keep them from scoring before halftime,” the senior safety said. “I knew once I had it I could score, I don’t remember seeing anyone near me.”
A normally prolific offense, bolstered by the help on defense, managed just 203 yards, which the Raiders nearly matched on three long touchdown runs, meaning some adjustments will likely be made this week with talented District 8A-7 foe Davenport Ridge coming in next week, Coach Doug Nichols said.
“We’ve had trouble finishing all year,” he said. “We’re going to have to change some things, and block better.”
The Kowboys couldn’t have had a better start Friday, forcing two Raider turnovers and taking a 14-0 lead after two minutes and seven offensive snaps. Lineman Elliott Bodre fell on a bad snap exchange on the game’s first play, and Osceola scored on its first snap when Da’Nas Pinellas tossed a 26-yard option pass to Fillmore Wynter.
On Rockledge’s third play, O.C. Brothers’ pass was batted at the line of scrimmage. Connor Parker tracked it down for the interception, leading to Jakobe Thomas’ 3-yard TD run three plays later.
Rockledge trimmed the lead to 14-7 when Jalen Mitchell went around the right side for an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, but the Kowboys answered with a six-minute, 70-yard scoring drive capped by Malcolm Davidson’s 22-yard run up the middle that followed Jakobe Thomas’ 11-yard rumble on fourth-and-3.
The Raiders would drive to the red zone just before halftime, but their momentum blown away when Jaleal Maloney jumped in front of Brothers’ pass at the goal line, broke a tackle and sprinted the length of the field to send the Kowboys into halftime with a 28-7 lead that would never get seriously threatened.
Rockledge would make it 28-14 on Jashaun Corbin’s 95-yard touchdown sprint, and then forced Osceola to punt on its next possession, but Jaylon Harris recovered a muffed punt near midfield, which turned into points when quarterback Braxton Jones scored on an 18-yard option keeper around the right side.
“We knew whatever happened tonight we’d be a better team for playing these guys instead of not playing at all,” Nichols said. “This is a senior-laden team and one of the better senior classes I’ve had since I’ve been back, so I knew they’d be focused after being off so long, but this was all about getting ready for next week.”
Maloney said he had no doubt the Kowboys would return Friday on the same high they’ve been on despite missing two weeks of game time.
“It’s been pretty difficult, making sure our families were okay from the storm and then not practice for so long,” he said. “It was a blessing to play this week, and once we came back it was like family again.”