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Osceola wins tough one against Bolts, 17-12

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 11:46 pm

Osceola tailback Malcolm Davidson scored the winning touchdown against against Davenport Ridge Community.
News-Gazette Photo/Martin Madock

By Rick Pedone

Sports Editor

In a game that was predictably physical and close, Osceola edged 8A-7 district rival Davenport Ridge Community, 17-12, Friday at Kowboys field.

The victory put the Kowboys (4-0, 1-0) in the driver’s seat for a potential seventh straight district championship.

“This was huge,” OHS Coach Doug Nichols said. “It puts us in a good position.”

Ridge (2-2, 0-1) never has beaten OHS, including twice in the playoffs, but every game between the teams has been decided by one score since Nichols took over the Kowboys program in 2010.

That was the case again Friday when all of the scoring came in the first half. After that, the OHS defense, which produced three second-half turnovers, was good enough to thwart the Bolts’ explosive quarterback, Carion Scott, who rushed 58 yards for one touchdown and threw a 2-yard TD pass for the other.

Osceola linebacker Connor Parker, who recovered a fourth-quarter fumble by Scott one play after Ridge converted a fourth-and-5 with a fake punt, said the key to the victory was stopping the Ridge QB.

“We said all week that you have to stop the quarterback to win the game,” Parker, a varsity starter since his freshman season, said.

He said that the Kowboys were prepared for the slugfest that developed against Ridge.

“Coach told us that it’s been like this, going all the way back to like 2010 and 2011,” he said. “They are a physical team, but so are we.”

The OHS offense had a few opportunities to put the game away, but penalties thwarted one drive deep in Bolts territory, and a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter prevented an insurance score late in the game.

Malcolm Davidson’s 68-yard scoring run late in the second quarter, one play after Ridge took a 12-10 lead, was the winning score. But, with the exception of Jakobe Thomas’s 28-yard TD dash up the middle, also in the second quarter, the Kowboys offense was unable to close out its drives.

That frustrated Nichols.

“We talked about that at the half, and the kids all said the same thing. We needed to come out and have a good drive, score, and put it away,” Nichols said. “We’re up 17-12 at the half. If we come out and score there, it’s probably over.”

Nichols faced a decision late in the fourth quarter when OHS had a fourth-and-1 at the Ridge 31 after Parker’s fumble recovery. But, after seeing a 41-yard field goal attempt blocked on the previous possession, Nichols opted to play it safe and punt. Ridge took over at its 15 but ran into trouble at midfield three plays later when Kowboys lineman Eliot Bodre sacked Scott on third-and-7. Then, after an illegal procedure penalty made it fourth-and-18 from the Ridge 35, Bodre pressured Scott, whose pass was deflected into the arms of defensive end Mario Kendricks to clinch the win.

Linebacker Trey Shine recovered another Ridge fumble in the third quarter as the Kowboys defense limited Ridge to 228 total yards. OHS amassed 260 yards, 252 on the ground.

Osceola drove to the Ridge 9 on its first possession of the game but settled for Marcos Espana’s 25-yard field goal.

Even though it was an uneven win, it was one that Nichols was happy to accept.

“We had a bunch of penalties that hurt us, but I’ll take 100 penalties it if gives us a big win like this,” Nichols said.

Davidson (7-79, 1 TD) and Thomas (14-74, 1 TD) led Osceola’s offense.

Osceola hosts Tampa Jesuit next week for a game that should provide the winner with the maximum points under the FHSAA’s new scoring system. Both Osceola and Jesuit are enjoying winning seasons after reaching the playoffs last year, so the winner should collect three bonus points.

Osceola returns to district play in two weeks, when it  hosts Gateway. The Panthers (3-2, 1-0) won their district opener Friday over Lakeland George Jenkins, 19-13. The Panthers will make up a district game at Haines City on Tuesday.

Harmony was a 35-33 winner over St. Cloud in a big 7A-5 matchup Friday. Poinciana lost to Eustis, 36-15, in 5A-13; Celebration was blanked by East River, 48-0, in 7A-5 and Liberty lost at Melbourne Central Catholic, 42-8.