by Bob San
It wasn’t pretty but the Osseo Orioles passed a gut check when they rallied from a 13-0 deficit to defeat host Maple Grove 26-20 in a Northwest Suburban Conference football game in front of 6,700 fans Friday, Sept. 7.
Both teams made numerous mistakes but the Orioles buckled down in the second half and improved to 2-0 for the season. The Crimson fell to 1-1.
“The boys made lots of mistakes,” Osseo coach Derrin Lamker said. “It’s an Osseo-Maple Grove game so that happens sometimes. We fell behind 13-0 in front of 6,700 fans and came back to win the game. That showed a lot of guts for our program.”
The Crimson got off to a great start when Brycen Wojta intercepted an Osseo pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter. Wojta scored again in the quarter, this time, as a receiver when he received a 35-yard touchdown pass from Blake Skaja to give MG a 13-0 lead.
Wojta needed to have a big night because fellow senior receiver Jake Wieneke was injured earlier in the week and could not play. Wojta did his part as he caught 10 passes for 127 yards and scored twice.
“Brycen played a good game,” Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi said. “He made some big catches, he also ran the ball and played corner for us. We got off to a good start and had a long punt return called back after we went up 13-0. That kind of stemmed our momentum.”
The Orioles got back into the game in the second quarter. Troy Kray scored on a 4-yard TD to make it 13-7 and the defense tied the game up when linebacker Tony Gamache intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-13.
Maple Grove went back ahead when fullback Jack Wallick broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run late in the half to give Maple Grove a 20-13 halftime lead.
Osseo’s defense led by Kray, Bridgeport Tusler, Tony Gamache, Rakeem Felder and Troy Williams came up big in the second half to shut out Maple Grove while the offense powered for two scores.
Jaimen Hampton bulled his way for a 3-yard TD run to tie the game 20-20 in the third quarter and Kray scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 39-yard scamper.
“Troy played fabulous on defense with 11 tackles, returned kicks and scored twice on offense,” Lamker said.
Gamache came through with a big touchdown and Tusler had two of the team’s four pass interceptions, including one late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
The Crimson defense did its best to contain Tusler, who scored five touchdowns in the first game. The Crimson managed to keep Tusler out of the end zone, but Tusler still managed to gain over 100 yards rushing and set up the Osseo scores.
The presence of power backs such as Tusler and Hampton allowed Osseo to control the ball in the second half keep the Maple Grove offense off the field. The Crimson had 137 yards passing and 94 yards rushing for the game.
“I have to give Osseo credit,” Lombardi said. “We got off to a good start but they hung in there. In the second half they wore us down. We are really young and we made lots of mistakes. On offense, it was always first and 20 or first and 25 and we were constantly behind the eight-ball. But it’s good that the kids were put into these situations early in the season so later in the season they will know what do to.”
“We did not play well at all offensively with a couple interceptions and lots of penalties,” Lamker said. “But our defense played better in the second half and we were able to make a couple plays to win.”
The Orioles next host Blaine Friday, Sept. 14, while Maple Grove visits Elk River.