There were plenty of fireworks prior to Friday night’s game between Osceola and Pinellas Park, including a lightning storm that delayed the start of the contest by 90 minutes and then an actual fireworks show when the host Patriots were being introduced.
But once the game finally got underway, there was a lot less flash and a lot more boom, as two physical clubs that like to play smash mouth football slugged it out in a low-scoring but entertaining game.
Pinellas Park used a 20-yard field goal to break a 7-7 tie in the third quarter, and the Patriots made some critical defensive plays, including an interception on the goal line in the waning minutes of the game, to pull out a hard fought 10-7 victory over the Warriors.
“It’s always a battle between us, they’re right down the street from us, and we knew they were going to give us a fight,” Pinellas Park head coach Kenny Crawford, who notched his sixth consecutive victory over the Patriots’ longtime rivals, said afterwards.
“But they found a way to win in a very tough situation, and I’m proud of the way our team, especially our defense, stepped up.”
The first half was basically a slog, as the teams combined for two turnovers, 10 penalties, six punts and just one score, a 10-yard touchdown run by Pinellas Park (2-1) senior running back Jalil Crapps.
But things picked up after the halftime break.
After forcing the Patriots to go three-and-out to start the third quarter, Osceola (1-2) put together its best drive of the game after Pinellas Park shanked an 18-yard punt.
Starting at his own 39 yard line, Warriors quarterback Ryan Allan (10-17, 126 yds, TD) hit senior tight end Darian Hooker for a 37-yard gain, and then after a penalty, Allan found senior Bronson Lynch for a 10-yard touchdown pass that, with the extra point, tied the game at seven.
That score lit a fire under the Patriots, as they immediately marched down the field on a 10-play drive, all runs, before they were forced to kick the field goal that gave them a 10-7 lead.
Osceola looked as if it was going to answer that score as they got the ball to start the fourth quarter, as junior all-purpose back Nick Shytle nearly single handedly got the Warriors in the end zone with a combination of runs, catches and one fateful pass.
Unfortunately that pass, off an option pitch from Allan, was intercepted at the goal line on an leaping play by Patriots defensive back Rod Robinson, and after one more Osceola drive ended with consecutive sacks, the Patriots had earned their second win of the season.
“We were hoping to get the game in doubt in the fourth quarter and we did,” longtime Osceola head coach George Palmer said after the game. “We had a couple of good chances, but unfortunately couldn’t finish it off.”