When you fumble the ball away four times, shank a punt, miss three extra points and have your normally potent running attack get held to less than 60 yards rushing, it could spell disaster for your football team. Unless you are Osceola High School and then it is just another victory and “ho-hum” day at the office.
The Kowboys had all of the above happen to them on Friday night and still walked away with a dominating 26-6 win over Dr. Phillips. With the win, Osceola went to 6-1 on the season and remained undefeated in Class 8A, District 9 play at 3-0. It also set up a road showdown next Friday night against West Orange (7-1, 3-0), in a game that will most likely be for the district title.
Friday’s win over Dr. Phillips did not come without some anxious moments.
Although the Panthers came into the game with a 2-5 record, they had played one of the most difficult schedules in the state — with all five of their losses coming to Florida teams currently ranked in the top 10 of their classifications. In addition, Dr. Phillips led Cocoa until the final minute last week, before dropping a heart-wrenching 19-15 decision. That was the same Cocoa team that handed Osceola its only defeat of the season earlier this year.
“Frankly I knew we were going to have a hard time running against Dr. Phillips,” Osceola Head Coach Eric Pinellas said. “They are really big strong and athletic on defense, especially up front and we pretty much knew we were going to have to throw the ball on them and rely on our defense.”
The Kowboys got those two elements, as quarterback Chad Mascoe completed 17 of 22 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Mascoe gave Osceola a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 28-yard strike to Donald Cummings and after his younger brother Bo Mascoe returned a fumble 17 yards for the Kowboys’ second score, Chad Mascoe hit Ja’Keem Jackson on a 10-yard scoring pass to give Osceola a 20-0 lead at halftime.
While that was happening, the Kowboys defense was stifling the Panther offense. Osceola forced three first-half turnovers and limited Dr. Phillips to just 54 net yards on six first-half possessions. In addition to Bo Mascoe’s scoop and score on the fumble recovery, Derrick LeBlanc recovered a fumble and Bo Mascoe also added an interception.
Osceola threatened to blow the game open in the third quarter, building their lead to 26-0 as Chad Mascoe led the Kowboys on a 7-play, 69-yard drive capped by a 22-yard slant to Perry Garrett for a score.
But fumbles and penalties would plague Osceola for the rest of the game.
After another defensive hold, Osceola would muff a punt to give Dr. Phillips possession on the Kowboy 30. Four plays later, Jayden Taylor scored from the two to cut the gap to 26-6.
Major penalties would kill the next two drives and Osceola would fumble the ball away on the next two drives. The four errors would give Dr. Phillips an average starting position on the Kowboy 44, but the defense once again came to the rescue – allowing just two first downs and no points on the four possessions. For the game, Osceola allowed just 155 yards of total offense.
“That’s not the way we want to finish games. Four turnovers, the penalties and spotty special teams play usually will get you beat,” Pinellas said. “But when you make that many errors and still win 26-6 against a quality opponent, it tells you something about your kids. Some of those mistakes were made because of aggression – trying to get extra yards or making a sensational play on defense. You certainly don’t want to discourage that. We will get back to work and start getting ready for another outstanding opponent in West Orange.”