SEMINOLE — Osceola senior running back Jamil Morris said he takes great pleasure in smashing his 240-pound body into the heart of an opposing defense and punishing would-be tacklers.
Morris, though, isn’t the only bruiser in the Warriors’ backfield — 220-pound Quadarius Patterson and junior Wilan Harvey also get a kick out of shrugging off defenders and churning forward for extra yardage.
The Warriors’ three-headed attack proved too much for a worn-out Seminole defense on Friday night.
Osceola, behind a game-high 185 yards from Morris, churned out 330 yards on the ground to rush past Seminole 23-15 in the opener for both teams.
“That’s how we play football,” Morris said. “Run it down their throat.”
Morris capped a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone early in the fourth quarter to bring Osceola (1-0) within a point with less than 11 minutes to play. On the 2-point conversion try, quarterback Ryan Allan scooted left on an option keeper, giving the Warriors a 16-15 advantage.
With Seminole (0-1) driving midway through the fourth, Harvey picked off a fourth-down pass at the Osceola 15 to snuff the scoring chance. Five plays later, Harvey took a misdirection handoff from the 11 and waltzed into the end zone to put Osceola ahead 23-15.
“We try to shorten the game up, and, hopefully, good things will happen in the fourth quarter like they did tonight,” Osceola coach George Palmer said.
Seminole marched 80 yards down the field on the opening drive under first-year coach Chris Miller, culminated by Ra’Quanne Dickens’ 4-yard TD run.
Osceola answered on its first drive when Morris broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on fourth down and rumbled 52 yards for a score. With its kicker injured, Osceola went for two and succeeded.
The Warhawks regained the lead early in the second on an 11-yard carry by Dickens (29 carries, 142 yards), set up by an Osceola muffed punt on their 37.
Seminole recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and advanced to the Osceola 30 before penalties stalled the drive.
“We were on the ropes,” Palmer said. “…That was a huge stand after the onside kick.”
From there, Osceola’s ground game and defense took over. The Warriors allowed 49 yards in the second half and kept the ball for nearly 18 minutes. The victory was the third in a row for Osceola over its neighborhood rival.