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Osceola gears up for playoff push

May 23, 2006 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Osceola Ghostriders News Release

Mark it, book it and take it to the bank - Osceola Football will not lose another heartbreaker this week.

(They don't play.)

But the talk from this week in the NIFL is this -- who knows if Ray Isaac has started a nasty trend in the NIFL.

The Florida Frenzy's former coach - as in last week - went from the sidelines to under center and led the home team to a 44-43 win over Osceola Football at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood last week.

In a game that featured a handful of swings in emotion, Osceola scored first, then fell behind, then rallied in the second half and had a chance to win, then tied the game near the end but ultimately dropped their second game in a row.

With a bye week in between to regroup and recover, the team can snap the streak and pick up what Coach Marquette Smith is calling a "must win" on June 3 against the renewed and regenerated Montgomery Maulers. (More on that next week. Stay tuned to this space.)

Osceola is now 6-4 and currently the fourth seed in the Atlantic Conference. Combined, Osceola's four losses have come by a combined nine points.

Like the week before against West Palm Beach, Osceola scored the first time it touched the ball and took a 7-0 lead, and again receiver Larry Henderson took it in the end zone, on a 6-yard catch from quarterback Ramon Robinson. The Frenzy defense clamped down the rest of the half, but Jeff Bacigalupi kept Osceola within range with two second-quarter field goals as Florida went into halftime up 20-13.

Osceola trailed 27-13 before linebacker Sam Smalls made his three big defensive plays of the game. After scoring Osceola's only sack of the night, he picked off an Isaac pass stopping a Florida drive. Osceola answered with a Odest Shannon 3-yard run to make it 27-20. Later in the third quarter, Smalls blocked a Frenzy field goal attempt, and Osceola recovered at the 1, and Shannon took it in one play to tie it up.

But Florida went back ahead 41-34, then Robinson got serious. He hit Ty Law on a 42-yard scoring strike, then the QB banged in the two-point conversion to tie it at 41 with 9:05 left in the game. Florida kicked a field goal to take a 44-41 lead, then Osecola mounted what it hoped would be the game-winning drive. It looked good when on fourth-and-3 from the Florida 10, Robinson hit Shannon on a 6-yard gain, but Osceola couldn't punch across the goal line and a 23-yard field goal sailed right of the 9-foot wide goalposts.

Said Coach Smith: "We played one of our best second halves of the season, but we haven't pieced together a full game yet. You've got to do that to beat a solid team in this league."

Osceola Football Player of the Game: With a sack, interception and blocked field goal, Sam Smalls played big.

Next home game: June 17 is the final game at the Silver Spurs Arena, when Osceola Football meets the Lakeland Thunderbolts.

NOTES: Osceola receiver James Panui entered the Florida game third in the NIFL in receiving yards per game (79.9) ... making it worse for Osceola is that with a victory last week it would have gained ground on the Southern Division-leading Thunderbolts (8-1), who lost to the River City Rage, 50-46, last Saturday ... Word is that the NIFL will be taking six teams each from the Atlantic and Pacific Conferences.

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National Indoor Football League Stories from May 23, 2006

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