By Matthew Davis
Osseo forced three defensive turnovers in the final quarter to hold off visiting White Bear Lake 20-19 Sept. 8.
Senior cornerback Johnson Fallah intercepted a pass in the end zone and Dante Miller recovered a fumble late in the game to help Osseo escape with a 20-19 home win over White Bear Lake last Friday.
The Bears trailed 20-19 and had just completed a long pass to the Osseo 6 with about 1:50 left to play. Instead of playing it safe and kick a field goal, the Bears tried a pass into the end zone. Fallah leaped high about the Bear receiver to catch the ball and tumbled onto the turf for the game-saving play.
Fallah’s interception was one of many big plays for the Osseo defense.
“I think it’s a character win for our guys,” Orioles coach Ryan Stockhaus said.
It started with Anthony Williams picking off the Bears with 5:09 left in the game to set up the go-ahead score.
“That’s what I liked — at some point in the game, we started to find something that clicked,” Stockhaus said.
Reggie Dupree put the Orioles up 20-19 with a 12-yard touchdown on a sweep. He finished with 119 yards on 22 carries and two TDs.
It didn’t come easy for Osseo after that point with a slim fourth quarter lead. White Bear Lake moved the ball the way to the Orioles’ 6-yard line, but Fallah picked off a pass in the end zone to preserve the lead.
Osseo mustered a short drive before punting the ball away and a penalty on the punt return coverage set the Bears up in Orioles territory with 58 seconds left. The Orioles pass rush kept coming and forced a fumble, which Miller dived to recover and seal the win in the final 38 seconds.
“I was running as fast as I could,” Miller said. “A lot of people were telling me it was the fastest they’ve ever seen me run.”
Osseo had battled back and forth all evening with the Bears, a team the Orioles last met in the 2015 Class 6A playoffs. The Orioles won that game 48-21 en route to the Class 6A title.
In their Sept. 8 meeting, new casts for both teams took the stage. Osseo linebacker Richard Mulbah recovered a Bears fumble on the first play from scrimmage and the offense cashed in. Quarterback Greg Arrell completed a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Grant Tardiff and wide receiver Elijah Whitner broke a big run to bring Osseo inside the 1. The Orioles punched in from there are as Reggie Dupree swept wide into end zone for a TD. The extra point was no good and Osseo led 6-0 7 minutes into the first quarter.
Bears running back Zach Griebel answered with a 5-yard TD for a 7-6 edge.
The Osseo defense stopped WBL twice on fourth downs in the second quarter. The Orioles responded with a scoring drive. Arrell scrambled for four yards on fourth down and on the next play hit Whitner on a 45-yard TD pass with 2:22 left in the second quarter. Whitner then ran in the 2-point conversion for a 14-7 advantage.
Whitner emerged as a playmaker for the Orioles that night with four catches for 76 yards. He also had two rushes for 39 yards.
“We did a lot of good stuff today, but we also made a few mistakes,” Arrell said. “We’ve got to fix those mistakes.”
Osseo opened the third quarter with an offensive drive that resulted in a fumble, which set up the Bears with good field position. The Bears took advantage on a 4-yard TD pass to pull within a point.
Osseo drove deep into Bears territory after that but turned it over on downs. The Bears took advantage in capping a long drive with a 40-yard TD pass caught by Blake Charles to grab a 19-14 lead in the third quarter.
Osseo again came up short on a fourth-down run in the fourth quarter as the Bears looked to wrap up the win. The Orioles defense then gave the offense an extra lift with the three turnovers.
In addition, the Orioles defense stepped up in other ways such as stopping the Bears on fourth-and-one plays three times. Williams led the defense with 13 tackles and a sack in addition to the pick. Adam Lanners stepped up with nine tackles, and Miller had seven. Mulbah had two fumble recoveries and two tackles.
Osseo will get a big challenge at home 7 p.m. Friday with Blaine (1-1). The Bengals return lots of talent from a 2016 Class 6A semifinalist squad.
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