With its offense slowed by a driving rainstorm and a stout Orange City University defense, the Osceola Kowboys had to rely on a pair of touchdowns by freshman running back Taevion Swint to come away with a 13-8 win in the Friday night regular-season finale for both teams.
“The most important thing was we got the win,” Osceola Head Coach Eric Pinellas said. “Give University a lot of credit, they are a good football team and knowing how hard it was the throw the ball rain, they stacked the box and came with a lot of run blitzes we had trouble picking up.”
Osceola quarterback Chad Mascoe did not play the first two series of the games, something Pinellas called an “internal team matter.” Still the Kowboys moved the ball on both of those possessions, including getting to the Titans 10-yard line on the second one – but failed to score.
Swint would give Osceola a 7-0 lead on the Kowboys next possession, scoring on a 7-yard run. The 11-play, 45-yard drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on University on a third and 16 play.
The score would remain the same until midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Aden Figueroa would lead the Titans on a 4-play, 46-yard drive, capping the drive by calling his own number on a 2-yard run. After an Osceola off-sides moved the ball to the one, Figueroa bulled over for a two-point conversion and an 8-7 with 8:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Figueroa was outstanding the entire game as the Titans held the ball for most of the second half. He would finish with 79 rushing yards – an impressive total given Osceola had allowed opposing teams just 142 total rushing yards collectively in their last eight games.
In what may have amounted to the call of the game, Osceola lined up to go for it with six minutes remaining on a fourth and five from their own 40. Pinellas would recall the offense and send out the punting team and the ensuing kick rolled dead on the University 19. Rubens Joseph would gain nine on first down, but an errant snap on the next play was followed by a run for no gain to set up a fourth and four from the 25. A bad snap led to just a nine-yard punt by Brayden Miller and Osceola took over on the University 38.
“We thought about going for it for a second, but our defense has played great all season,” Pinellas said about the call. “We were really confident the defense would hold and give us a chance to win the game.”
After gaining possession, Osceola picked up a quick first down but three plays later faced a fourth and three. Mascoe would complete a four-yard hook pattern to Isaiah Jean-Baptiste to keep the drive alive. One play later, Swint would sweep to his left, break two tackles at the line, and race untouched the rest of the way for a 17-yard score. The ensuing two-point conversion was dropped but Osceola had their first lead of the second half, 12-8.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Kowboys sacked Figueroa twice and his fourth-down desperation pass was knocked down as Osceola (8-2) preserved the win.
For the game, the Kowboys were held to season lows in points (12), total yards (170), and rushing yards (141). Swint did manage to gain 114 yards on 17 carries.
The win most likely solidified the Kowboys as the number five seed in the regional, where they will face a regional quarterfinal game next week on the road. The opponent will be confirmed on Sunday but it most likely will be against Lithia’s Newsome High. The two teams met in a regional final a year ago, a game Osceola won 17-7.