Bringing the Noise and the Revenge to Fayetteville
It's a big week for Osceola Football, as the team heads to Fayetteville for a meeting with the undefeated Guard on Saturday at the Crown Center. Fayetteville handed Osceola its only loss on April 1, a narrow 58-55 loss at the Silver Spurs Arena.
Osceola, ranked third in the latest National Indoor Football League Massey Ratings, looks to upend the Guard, ranked first in the Massey ratings, after a momentum-seizing 40-29 win over the Charleston Sandsharks last Saturday at the Spurs. Osceola ran out to a 31-0 lead in the third quarter before Coach Marquette Smith turned to his bench to test the depth and get those players some quality playing time in advance of the Fayetteville game.
Coach Smith may be relying on some of those backups to bring a win home to Osceola County. Running back Odest Shannon and defensive linemen Terrell Showers both incurred sprained ankles during the win over Charleston, and their roles will be determined by how those ankles respond by game time.
The Good: The Osceola defense held the Sandsharks scoreless for 2 1/2 quarters. Linebacker Sam Smalls returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown to give the home team a 24-0 lead going into halftime ... Shannon extended his stellar season with another great stat line: 11 carries, 75 yards, three touchdowns ... kicker Jeff Bacigalupi atoned for missing a late field goal that would have tied the Fayetteville game three weeks ago by hitting field goals of 27 and 33 yards, the last coming late in the game, making the score 40-29 and forcing Charleston to score twice ... Josh Stephens played superb on the defensive line, notching eight tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. The Bad: Aside from the injuries, Osceola surrendered 301 yards of offense, including 113 rushing yards on 21 carries, a 5.4 average ground gain ... quarterbacks Ramon Robinson and Rob Harding combined for zero touchdown passes.
The ugly: Charleston's Eddie Miller caught three touchdown passes in 11 minutes of game action ... Osceola was outscored 29-9 in the game's last 19 minutes ... Rob Harding played at QB in place of Ramon Robinson for most of the fourth quarter.
"It got close enough to get my attention," Coach Smith said. "We had guys huffing and puffing at the end, so we know conditioning is something we have to work on this week, along with getting in the right defense to stop Fayetteville."
Osceola Football Player of the Game: LB Sam Smalls, who returned an interception for a touchdown and blocked a Charleston field goal. On tap: The Fayetteville Guard features Wilmont Perry, one of the top running backs in the NIFL. He carried 21 times for 88 yards and four scores in the Guard's win over Osceola three weeks ago.
Around the NIFL Southern Division: Osceola's record is officially 4-1 now that the team has been awarded a forfeit win for the April 8 game against the West Palm Beach Phantoms, whose playing surface at the Delray Beach Tennis Center was not ready for action ... The undefeated Lakeland Thunderbolts are up to No. 4 in the NIFL Massey ratings ... The Florida Frenzy scored their first win, a 66-33 dismantling of the Montgomery Maulers, who come to the Silver Spurs Arena on April 28.
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National Indoor Football League Stories from April 22, 2006
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