Osceola County’s football teams tried to put an exclamation point on their 2019 seasons in the regular-season finales. Here’s a rundown:
Celebration 21, Liberty 20: In the most intriguing game of the night among our county schools, the teams traded punches, but it was the Storm’s goal-line defense that threw the last one for the margin of victory.
Host Celebration stopped the Chargers’ two-point conversion attempt after their final score in the fourth quarter to get the win.
‘”It was closer than I’d like but a heck of a way to end the year,” CHS Coach Jay Sobke said. “We hadn’t beaten Liberty in a long time. They showed up and challenged us, but it was our defense that ended up standing up.”
Each time Liberty (1-9) scored in the second quarter, on Luis Maddox’s 31 yard touchdown run and Benji Augsute’s shorter run, Celebration (4-6) got an answer from quarterback Will Bohn, on touchdown passes to Joe Hall and Anthony Gonzalez, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 14.
Late in the third quarter, the Storm mounted a long drive, and Bohn ended it with a five-yard touchdown run to give Celebration its first lead. They made that lead stand until late in the fourth quarter, when Auguste fired a halfback option pass to Mekhi Jean Baptiste in the corner of the end zone. The choice was to go for two; Celebration stopped that all-important play.
Liberty would get one last chance with the ball at midfield with 29 seconds left, but Juju Carrero’s sack short-circuited the drive, leading to a desperation Hail Mary as the clock expired.
It was Celebration’s best season since narrowly missing the playoffs (7-3) in 2015.
“It could have been better, but it was better than our last two years,” Sobke said.
Victory Christian 30, St. Cloud 6: It was simple — the Bulldogs needed a win in Lakeland to keep any Class 7A playoff hopes alive. What was hard was solving the Storm’s defense. St. Cloud (6-4) turned the ball over five teams and did not score until early in the fourth quarter.
The game was scoreless until Victory got on the board with a short touchdown pass on the final play of the first half. The Storm then scored 17 points in the third quarter to put the game away.
With Melbourne, the 8th seed in Region 2, also losing Friday, St. Cloud has a small but improbable playoff hope. We’ll find out Sunday morning when the FHSAA releases the playoff brackets.
Tohopekaliga 41, Haines City 19: Javon Morrison scored on a 48-yard run on the Tigers’ second offensive play, and never looked back against the winless Hornets. Blake McCullough added a pair of touchdown receptions in the second quarter, and then defense and special teams helped pad a lead that Haines City trimmed to 23-20 at one point with a safety and then recovering a blocked punt in the end zone early in the third quarter.
“We had a lot of seniors getting it done,” THS Coach Marc Deas said. “They bought in this summer. We’ve got our quarterback for the next two years (Tyler Wesley) and some other key players returning next year.”
But before that, with a 6-4 record, Tohopekaliga is eligible for a bowl game bid. Expect an announcement over the weekend or on Monday.
Poinciana 42, Cocoa Beach 0: The Eagles recorded their first shutout since Sept. 9, 2011, and in turn posted their first four-win (or more) season since 2013. Poinciana was 4-2 in non-district games, including a county victory over Celebration.
Lake Brantley 42, Harmony 28: The Longhorns rallied after trailing the playoff-bound Patriots (7-3) to tie the game at 21-21 going to halftime, but Brantley’s punishing run game churned yards and scores in the third quarter to pull away.
The Longhorns (2-8) defense recovered a fumble at the 2 and Bobby Madril took it the rest of the way to make it 13-7 late in the first quarter. Harmony sustained two long drives in the second quarter that resulted in a one-yard Keaghan Black TD run and a Black-to-Kenneth Torres six-yard scoring toss.
After halftime, Lake Brantley scored on its next three drives, though freshman Tyler Emans rumbled in from the 14 in the fourth quarter to narrow the margin.
“We fought back to tie it at halftime,” Coach Don Simon said. “Stopping that veer (formation of the Patriots), they control the clock. But it was one of the stronger games we played this season.”
Olympia 20, Gateway 16: The Panthers led this game 16-7 at the half, but could not hold to to get their first win of the season; the Titans (3-7) rallied in the second half for the win.
In his final game for Gateway its “Weapon X”, Phillip Bangura, scored on a short touchdown run and an 82-yard interception return. He also threw for a two-point conversion.