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Late break helps Osceola over Lakewood

It was a touch of irony.

For most of the game, the Osceola Warriors kept hurting themselves. Penalty after penalty after penalty, the Warriors yielded precious turf to the inspired Lakewood Spartans.

But then, trailing 13-9 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, and facing a botched fourth-and-goal pass attempt, a sailing yellow flag brought new hope.

Warriors receiver Nick Franklin drew a controversial pass interference flag deep in the end zone for an automatic first down. On the next play, Alvin Mathis scored from two yards out, converted the two-point conversion and gave the Warriors (7-0) a 17-13 win at Osceola.

"We preach that the best team will win the football game no matter what the calls are," said Osceola head coach George Palmer. "That was a crucial call, wasn't it?

"All night long they were capitalizing on our penalties," said lineman Brent Jones. "We just capitalized on theirs, and it came at a bad time for them."

In Lakewood's 1994 season history it will certainly go down as a bad time, and a bad call.

"Look, the ball was in the air and both offense and the defense have a right to it," said Lakewood coach Brian Bruch. "We both got to the ball at the same time and he (Franklin) caught it and dropped it.

"These high school officials don't allow you to play the pass receiver. It's the same old ----."

Lakewood (2-4) got the ball back with just under three minutes to play. But what could have been a game winning drive was halted inside Warriors territory when linebacker Dean Okrasinski forced and recovered a fumble by Lakewood quarterback Waymon Williams.

"Just before the play we changed the defense and I was able to come up with the play," Okrasinski said.

The Warriors took an early lead in the first quarter behind Hassan Lang's 3-yard touchdown. Lang, who finished with 59 yards on 14 carries, got great ground support from Mathis, who added 14 yards on seven carries.

Also, the steady play of Osceola quarterback Bryan Freese (nine for 11, for 110 yards with no interceptions) kept the Warriors above water despite a night of 10 penalties and 85 yards lost.

"I was really proud of my guys," Palmer said. "We lost our composure out there and those penalities could easily have hurt us, but in the end we were able to control the ball and come up with the big call and the big play."

Lakewood's highlight came on running back Shay Reed's 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Reed's touchdown put the Spartans ahead 13-9 with 10 minutes left on the clock.