OHS impressive in thumping Harmony; St. Cloud, Celebration get wins
Tohopekaliga finally got to celebrate Friday Night Lights on its own campus Friday, and while it ended with a 32-21 loss to Jupiter, the Tigers witnessed who should lead them on many future Friday nights with his arm.
While Jupiter quarterback Johnathan Mosely was a run-first option (21 carries, 124 yards, 2 TDs) Friday, THS sophomore Tyler Wesley kept his eyes downfield and trusted his receivers, going 18-of-40 for 174 yards in his first varsity start.
Tigers Coach Marc Deas said he was comfortable putting the ball, and the game, in Wesley’s hands.
“What’s special about him is when he felt the pressure he kept his vision downfield, looking for an open man,” Deas said. “Turnovers and penalties, that’s what gasses an offense, we put our backs against the wall too much. And we still had a chance in the second half. It was the little things that hurt us tonight.”
The Tigers committed four costly turnovers that directly to 13 Jupiter points and indirectly to seven more.
The game was the first ever at the school’s stadium; Tigers’ administrators could only watch last year as construction problems forced games to be played down Boggy Creek Road at Austin-Tindall Park. A home-side capacity crowd looked on as Tohopekaliga rallied in the second half from a 20-0 halftime deficit to cut the lead to one score two different times.
Jupiter dominated the first half possession, taking seven minutes to score a touchdown on the games’ opening drive, then making it 14-0 after a fumble gave it a short field, and 20-0 on a scoop-and-score fumble recovery.
The third quarter was all Tigers. They score on their first drive, an 11-play, 60-yard journey ending with Wesley’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Ahmeen Dinzey, then Nathaniel Isaac recovered a fumble on Jupiter’s next snap. Blake McCullough turned it into points with an eight-yard run and it was 20-13 just five minutes into the half.
Jupiter did score on its next drive – Dinzey then blocked the PAT attempt – but the Tigers marched downfield again and McCullough (seven carries, 52 yards) scored again from nine yards out and Dinzey caught a two-point conversion from Wesley to make it 26-21 with 8:33 left in the ball game, when fortune favored the home team. The ensuing kickoff hit a Jupiter upback and Kareem Dinzey recovered at the Warriors’ 48-yard line, giving the Tigers the ball with the chance to take the lead after such a rough first-half.
But the offense stalled. The defense got them the ball back deep in their own territory with six minutes left but Tohopekaliga went backwards and a fumbled punt snap in the end zone gave Jupiter an insurance touchdown.
The Tigers (0-1) will look to clean up those “little things” with another home game next Friday against St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins.
In other action from Friday night:
The usually run-heavy Osceola Kowboys got three long touchdown passes from Devon Wells to romp past the Harmony Longhorns, 45-0, at Harmony, despite missing three starting offensive linemen and two defensive backs with injuries.
Osceola, who heads to Cocoa next week, also got a pair of defensive scores.
St. Cloud notched its fifth consecutive regular season win (the Bulldogs closed 2018 with four wins) with a 20-7 decision over Palm Bay Bayside. Garhett King tossed touchdown passes to Patrick Forysthe and Romeo Medina, the latter a 63-yard “boom” play that made it 20-0 in the third quarter. Forsythe added an 11-yard TD run in the second quarter. The Bulldogs come home next week to play a rare Thursday game against Golden, Colorado.
Gateway got touchdown runs from Jacovi Bryant and Phillip Bangura, but it wasn’t enough for the rebuilding Panthers in a 42-12 loss to Merritt Island. The Panthers, who were in the playoffs three of the last four years, returned just eight varsity players and have four freshman in starting roles. GHS is at Hagerty, a 33-7 loser to Lake Nona (the Panthers fell 45-7 to Nona last week), next Friday.
For the second year in a row, Celebration won its season opener, cruising past Pine Ridge, 34-7. The Storm travel to Poinciana next week. The Eagles fell to Lake Howell, 28-8, Friday. Justin Carpenter tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ligarrius Coachman.
Liberty, another team restocking its football cupboard, fell to the triple-option rushing attack of Lake Brantley in a 55-38 loss. The Chargers host Sebring next week.