In two momentum-swinging plays, the Ozark Tig ers had appeared to regain control of the game and push even closer to the Class 5 state finals.
But a common sight on the night, a penalty flag on the field, negated Seth Wheeler’s potential go-ahead touchdown in what ultimately was Ozark’s best scoring chance of the second half.
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With Wheeler’s touchdown off the board due to a block-in-the-back penalty, Ozark remained behind 13-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers would eventually go 3 and out on the drive and punt to Fort Osage, who would drive down the field for a game-clinching field goal that sent Ozark to a 16-7 defeat.
Coach Mark Bliss’ Tigers went cold on offense after scoring a touchdown on their second possession of the game. Ozark committed over a dozen penalties.
“You have those 13, 14 or 15 penalties, it just killed us,” Bliss said. “In a state semifinal game, you shouldn’t have that many. They told us before the game they were going to let us play, and they didn’t let us play. But that’s just the way it is. We’ll learn from it and move on.”
With Fort Osage leading 13-7, an Ozark punt hit an Indians player. Ozark recovered at the Fort Osage 26, and Wheeler had a dazzling touchdown run on the next play that saw him initially run right toward the Tigers sideline before switching up and cutting back all the way to the left side of the field and into the endzone.
But the penalty prevented the score, and Fort Osage would hold down the Tigers to get the ball back. Ozark suffered a back-breaking defensive lapse on the ensuing Fort Osage drive when, on 3rd and 16 from the Tigers 36, Indians quarterback Steven McBee scrambled for a 32-yard gain.
Fort Osage would get a 32-yard field from Hayden Baumgartner to make it a two-possession game (16-7) with less than seven minutes remaining.
Midway through the third quarter, Fort Osage used a short field and drove 45 yards to get an Ezra Vaoifi 4-yard touchdown run and take a 13-7 lead. McBee had a 22-yard completion to D’Vante Mosby and a 10-yard run of his own on the drive.
After getting just one first down on their first possession of the game, Ozark forced Fort Osage to go three and out and regained possession. A drive that included a 4th and 2 conversion from Cody Lindsay ended with a 3-yard Lindsay touchdown run.
Fort Osage’s offense finally pieced together a long drive late in the second quarter. After McBee twice found receivers Brandon Winters and Willie Penamon for receptions of over 10 yards, McBee found Penamon again – this time for a 16-yard touchdown catch.
Fort Osage would fake the extra point try with McBee as the holder, but his thrown to the endzone was incomplete.
Penatlies plagued Fort Osage throughout the night as well. The Indians had a touchdown of their called back due to a flag.
Ozark finishes 11-2 overall and with a loss, but Tigers seniors like Lindsay have plenty to remember.
“How much we put into it and got out of it,” Lindsay said. “How much we’ve done as a team. Yeah we didn’t go to state, but we beat teams that we never thought we’d beat, so it’s good to have those memories.”
Fort Osage 16, Ozark 7Ozark 7-0-0-0---7
Ft. Osage 0-6-7-3---16
Ozark – Lindsay 3 run (Danielson kick)
Fort Osage – Penamon 16 catch (2-point conversion failed)
Fort Osage – Vaoifi 4 run (Baumgartner kick)
Fort Osage – Baumgartner 32 kick