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TAMPA — Osceola, playing in the postseason for the first time since 2006, knew it would be a tall order to beat Hillsborough. The tallest player on the field made sure that didn’t happen.
The Terriers rolled to a 42-7 victory Friday night in the Class 6A quarterfinals as 6-foot-5 quarterback Dwayne Lawson performed flawlessly in his first playoff game. Lawson, a sophomore, set the tempo as he guided Hillsborough (9-1) to touchdowns on all three first-half series, giving the Terriers a 20-7 lead.
Osceola (7-4) failed to threaten after that as the Hillsborough defense allowed only 48 of 169 yards in the second half.
“(Hillsborough) is a very talented football team,” Osceola coach George Palmer said. “They’re going to be formidable, and they could go very, very deep in the playoffs. We played as hard as we could. We’ll look back on this, and we took quite a few steps forward this year.”
Lawson, a first-year varsity member, accounted for two touchdowns and 76.5 percent of Hillsborough’s offense. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 174 yards, including a 32-yard scoring strike to Curtis Thomas on fourth and 12 with 25 seconds left before halftime.
Thomas, whom Lawson says is “my go-to guy,” caught six passes for 99 yards, all in the first half. Lawson also ran for 106 yards on 14 carries. He put the Terriers in front for good with a 1-yard plunge and subsequent two-point conversion run on their opening drive.
Hillsborough’s first-half scoring drives covered 81, 50 and 65 yards, two on 10 plays or more.
“We thought we could chuck the ball on them,” Lawson said. “(Osceola) played hard and wanted some, but we wanted it more.”
Nigel Harris scored three touchdowns (4, 4 and 35 yards), one set up by Lilrobert Wilson’s fumble recovery. Austin Lawrence’s 1-yard run in the second quarter pulled Osceola within 14-7, but Hillsborough ran off the final 28 points.