It was “Grudge Match Friday”; six of Osceola County School District’s eight football programs were playing each other, with all four games involving county teams being played in the county.
Osceola 42, Liberty 14: The Chargers were seeking their first win of the year and looked capable of knocking off the Kowboys early, turning a turnover into an early score, but OHS used a fast start to put away their neighbors in green.
Osceola (3-1) led 15-6 at the half but scored three times in the first six minutes of the second half, including two Davon Wells touchdown runs, turning the close game into a rout.
It didn’t look like it early. While the Kowboys scored on its first possession of the game when Wells hit DeWayne McGee on a 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10 and then forced a Liberty punt, the Chargers’ response was to recover a fumble and turn it into points on Ardairious Ingram’s two-yard run.
Up 8-6 in the second quarter, McGee extended the lead to 15-6 when he fought through two tackles to reach the end zone from 15 yards out.
Sophomore Ja’Randy Swint, who ran for 1,000 yards last year at Liberty, was part of the Kowboys’ strong finish, scoring twice in the second half.
Defensive end Dylan Ruiz added a pair of sacks and a forced fumble.
“We made some adjustments at the half, so sometimes we’re a second-half team,” OHS Coach Doug Nichols said. “The work these kids did over the summer showed tonight.”
John Smith connected with Luis Maddox on a fourth-quarter TD strike in the fourth quarter for Liberty (0-4).
The teams jump back into district play next week. Osceola (District 8A-6) travels to Cypress Creek, while Liberty (7A-6) hosts George Jenkins.
Harmony 24, Gateway 21: The Longhorns rallied from a 21-14 halftime deficit to win their first game of the year, while the Panthers remained winless.
Chris Skeldon’s 21-yard field goal with 8:59 left in the game proved to be the winning margin for Harmony (1-3), who had no answer for Gateway’s Phillip Bangura, who scored on runs of 46, 52 and 70 yards in the first half.
“We needed this one, but there’s a little more grey in my beard now,” HHS Coach Don Simon said. “By rights we should’ve had last week’s one (a 34-27 loss to Melbourne), but we’d give up a big play, but the kids kept fighting back. This shows what these guys have deep inside, so the future looks bright.”
The Longhorns pulled with one score, 21-14, on a Michael Marino touchdown catch just before halftime, and kept the momentum in the second half despite Gateway (0-4) getting the ball back early on Jacovi Bryant’s interception, but the drive stalled and Longhorns’ special teams pounced on a bad punt snap to get a short field to work on. Tyler Emars’ 1-yard TD plunge tied the game at 21.
Then the defense came up big when linebacker Gibson Gaston pulled a screen pass out of the air, setting up Harmony at the Panthers’ 21. It led to the the field goal.
Gateway had two late drives to get the winning score; both were turned away by Harmony’s defense.
“These kids are young, they’re learning how to finish games, so I hope they learn from this,” GHS Coach Marlin Roberts said. “We took a lead, then the mistakes started. They were focused at the half when we met, but they couldn’t keep the momentum.”
Gateway goes to St. Cloud next week in a game postponed by Hurricane Dorian; Harmony hosts 7A-5 front-runner Viera.
St. Cloud 48, Celebration 13: The Bulldogs (4-0) have now won eight straight regular season games (and won a spring game and Kickoff Classic in between), but Coach Bryan Smart talked of “more work we’ve got to do” ahead of that Gateway matchup.
“Super proud of our kids,” he said. “Garhett (King, the quarterback) struggled the last two weeks, he’d be the first one to tell you, so it was great to see him step up in the pocket and make some great throws.”
King hit Koron Perrin, Patrick Forsythe, Hayden Taylor, Romeo Medina and Craig Chapman on scoring throws.
St. Cloud is the county’s only unbeaten team. Defensive end Kwaisi Crudup had a sack, and Trace Clark pulled in an interception.
The Storm, who got a 2-yard QB sneak by Will Bohn and a 22-yard touchdown pass from Bohn to Joe Hall, head to Freedom next week for an 8A-6 game.
Poinciana 27, Tenoroc 7: The Eagles picked up their second win of the year, matching the entire win total from 2018, on Homecoming Night. Jalen Jarrett scored twice, Ligarius Coachman hauled in a TD pass and quarterback Justin Carpenter barreled in on a short touchdown run. Poinciana (2-2) broke open what was a 7-7 game in the third quarter against the Titans (0-4).
The Eagles jump back into 7A-6 play next week when they host Winter Haven.
Tohopekaliga (2-2) was off Friday ahead of its Homecoming game Friday against Melbourne, a 7A-5 foe.