Heading in to last Friday’s game with Osceola, St. Cloud Head Coach Bryan Smart knew among other things that his team would have to avoid mistakes and turnovers to have any chance against the Kowboys.
Unfortunately his team committed both, as Osceola rolled to a 35-13 win over the Bulldogs in the 97th edition of the rivalry and remained undefeated on the season at 3-0. St. Cloud dropped to 2-1 with the loss.
Things got out of hand early.
Held to no yards on their first possession, the Bulldogs were forced to punt, but the center snap was not handled cleanly, and punter Wyatt Castellucci was forced to fall on the ball on his own 10-yard line. On the next play, Malachi Rennie raced around right end for a 7-0 Kowboys lead less than one minute into the game.
On the next possession, a Garhett King pass was deflected and Kaylon Walter intercepted – returning the ball 37-yards for a touchdown. A second bad snap on a punt against set Osceola up deep in St. Cloud territory and Ja’Randy Swint scored on an 8-yard run and Osceola went up 21-0.
“We made the kind of mistakes you just can’t afford to make, especially against a team like Osceola,” Smart said. “Our special teams have been pretty good in the first could of games, but we made a couple of mistakes in the kicking game and throw a pick and I looked up and we’re down three touchdowns. When that happens they are just not the type of team you can come back on.”
Osceola would tack on two more touchdowns in the second quarter to extend the lead to 35-0. The first came on a 28-yard pass from Blake Birchler to Izaiah Jean-Baptiste. Taking advantage of good field position following a short punt, Swint would score his second touchdown of the game before half.
That five-touchdown lead triggered a running clock for the entire second half. Neither team would score on their first two possessions as the clock ran down in the fourth quarter.
Osceola would surrender its first points of the season as St. Cloud running back Patrick Forsyth broke loose on a 77-yard run down to the Osceola 2. On the net play, King scored on a keeper to make it 35-7.
The Kowboys would have a special teams gaff of their own on its next possession. Punter Spencer Richardson could not handle a poor snap and although he recovered the ball he could only return it back to the line of scrimmage. As time was running out, King hit Forsyth on a 15-yard touchdown pass for the 35-13 final.
“We played fairly well but it got a little sloppy at the end,” Osceola Head Coach Doug Nichols said. “We moved the ball early, made some big plays and got in front.”
It was the third straight game where the Kowboys played the entire second half with a running clock, limiting their possessions in the game.
“In the long run, when we play better teams, it could be a conditioning problem,” Nichols said. “You always wonder how the kids are going to perform when they have to play for a full four quarters.”
He may find the answer to that question as early as next week as the Kowboys will host regional power Edgewater. The Eagles are 1-1, with their lone loss coming to national power IMG Academy.
In other county action, Toho (1-2) recorded its first win of the season beating Liberty (1-2), 52-26; Gateway (0-3) dropped a 55-0 decision to Boone. Bishop Moore defeated Harmony (0-3), 41-0; Ridge beat Poinciana (0-3), 52-21; Celebration (0-2) saw its game with Ocoee canceled because of COVID-19 tracing concerns.