KISSIMMEE — Two of the state’s top defenses locked up in a struggle that came down to which team would make the key play when it mattered the most on the other side of the ball.
Osceola dialed up the perfect play call on a fourth and two from the Treasure Coast 11-yard line and senior quarterback David Buggs threw to a wide open Taevion Swint for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:29 remaining to send the Kowboys to a 10-7 victory Friday night in a Region 3-4S semifinal.
Buggs rolled out to his right and found his star sophomore running back who snuck out of the backfield against the grain to the other side of the formation all alone in the end zone for the difference of the game.
A final possession for Treasure Coast didn’t go anywhere but it was the inability for the Titans to capitalize in the red zone on two occasions earlier in the game that came back to bite them.
After the two teams traded punts to start the night, Titan safety Shamir Sterlin stripped a Kowboy returner on Treasure Coast’s punt and Kymani Edwin recovered the loose ball setting the Titans up at the Osceola 30-yard line.
Driving all the way down to the 1-yard line, a poor snap on third down resulted in a Treasure Coast fumble recovered by Osceola’s Daniel Morales to halt the drive.
The Titans (4-7) took the lead early in the second quarter as George Roberts III threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Davis to make it 7-0.
Osceola’s Devin Calhoun booted through a 27-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3 and Treasure Coast on their next drive mounted another promising drive but it ended as a trick play on a reverse pass was picked off by Kowboy star and Florida commit Jakeem Jackson.
Holding their 7-3 lead at halftime, the Titans took the opening kickoff and churned out first downs and the clock positioning themselves to increase the lead.
After 18 plays, the Titans had driven down to the Osceola 5-yard line but a false start halted the drive and Manuel German de Leon came up short on a 30-yard field goal attempt with 1:20 left in the third quarter kept it a 7-3 Treasure Coast lead.
“We had our opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them,” Treasure Coast head coach Irvin Jones said. “We jump off down there in the first quarter — eventually you keep knocking on that devil’s door, it’s going to get answered.”
The field position swung in favor of Osceola from that point and even after Treasure Coast made a big fourth down stop midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a Jaden Joespn stuff of Swint at the Titan 9-yard line.
Treasure Coast only gained seven yards in three plays and punted back to Osceola, who began their go-ahead drive on the Titan 44.
Buggs connected with Jackson on a 26-yard completion to bring the Kowboys in the red zone and the senior quarterback converted the key play that eventually decided the game.
Treasure Coast was eager to get another crack at Osceola after falling to the Kowboys 14-5 all the way back on Aug. 26th in the season opener for both teams.
Working hard all night long and getting another outstanding defensive performance that has gone up against some of Florida’s top offenses in the state, the disappointment for the season to come down to one stop they couldn’t get was paramount postgame for Jones.
“Tough season all the way around,” Jones said. “All the travel, these teams we played, it’s just rough. It’s disappointed how it ended. When you get blessed with opportunities, you’ve got to take them and now let anyone else grab the opportunity. We just didn’t take advantage tonight, we had plenty of opportunities. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Bryan Cooney is a high school sports reporter at TCPalm, part of the USA TODAY Network. You can reach him at [email protected] and also on Twitter at @Bryspann_Cooney.