DUNEDIN 21, OSCEOLA 20: Defense dominates what was supposed to be an offensive show, but Theo Wilson still manages to make pivotal plays and keep Falcons unbeaten.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published October 11, 2003
DUNEDIN - With the county's leading passer (Dunedin's Theo Wilson) and top scorer (Osceola's Sergio Felton) playing against each other, it was safe to assume the scoreboard operator would be busy. But it was defense that doused the fireworks Friday. Wilson was held to 86 yards passing, Felton scored once and both teams combined to produce 41 points after each averaged 40 the first half of the season.
Yet despite being bottled up and off-target most of the night, Wilson was able to make two plays that were the difference in the Falcons' 21-20 victory.
The first came on a 27-yard pass to Ricky Rouse with 3:42 left that was the decisive score. The second was on a 22-yard run with 52 seconds remaining that helped Dunedin run out the clock.
"Hats off to Osceola," Falcons coach Mark Everett said. "They went in with the mind-set to shut Theo down and did a pretty good job of that. We knew that this was going to be the most physical game we played all year."
Relying on a run-oriented, time-consuming offense, the Warriors moved the ball in the first half and scored on a 13-yard Felton run. Ricky Bose kicked the extra-point to make it 7-0.
Dunedin (5-0) answered. Tim Benjamin took the ensuing kickoff and went 86 yards for a touchdown, and Jonathan Lanni booted the point-after to tie the game.
The return was the only score the Falcons managed in the half. Osceola, entering with the county's seventh-ranked defense, held the Dunedin attack to 65 yards and picked off a pass.
The Warriors' momentum continued in the second half as they took their opening possession and went on a 67-yard drive capped by Tyler Gross' 13-yard touchdown off a sweep. Bose nailed the extra point to give Osceola a 14-7 lead.
Dunedin showed some life on offense in the fourth quarter and responded with a score as Rouse caught a 12-yard halfback pass from Benjamin.
Rather than kicking an extra point to tie, the Falcons chose to go for two. The gamble paid off as Wilson scrambled and hit a wide-open Rouse for the conversion, Dunedin its first lead, 15-14.
The rest of the game was an offensive see-saw as both teams traded scores and failed on conversions. Gross put Osceola ahead 20-15 with a 7-yard touchdown run. That set up the Falcons' game-winner on Rouse's second touchdown catch. The Warriors still had a chance but were forced to punt and never got the ball back.
"The last thing I wanted was to get in a shootout where both teams were putting up 40 points," Everett said. "So we end up having a defensive game and the score is still close. It always seems to be like that whenever we play Osceola. We could play tomorrow and they might beat us by a point. It's just the way it goes."