Hi, this is Manny Navarro reporting from the Citrus Bowl. I'll be blogging live during tonight's Class 5A state championship game between the St. Thomas Raiders and Kissimmee Osceola. Tonight's game is being broadcast on FSN-Florida.
Feel free to watch on TV and feed me your thoughts as the game goes on. Any predictions? I'm picking St. Thomas 27, Osceola 24. Let's sit back and enjoy the game together.
FIRST QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS...
- St. Thomas is kicking off. And Brandon Parker sends it into the end zone. Nice start for the Raiders.
OSCEOLA'S FIRST DRIVE
- The big news in this one is that Osceola quarterback T'Sharvan Bell isn't playing. He's been replaced by sophomore Mark Deas.
- Osceola runs the ball on the first three plays of the game -- twice behind tailback Bubba Brown to pick up a first down.
- On the fifth play of the drive, Brown breaks containment and rumbles for 53 ytards down to the St. Thomas 19-yard line. On second down at the STA 18, Osceola tries to get sneaky and runs a wide receiver pass. But Bryant Butler's pass hit St. Thomas safety John Carr in the back for an incompletion. Osceola goes for it on fourth down and gets stopped.
ST. THOMAS' 1st DRIVE
- St. Thomas takes over at its own 16 yard line and on the first play, Jeremiah Harden sets a state record with an 84-yard touchdown run to put the Raiders up 7-0. ST. THOMAS 7, OSCEOLA 0.
OSCEOLA's 2nd DRIVE
- The Kowboys take over at their own 20 after Parker sends another kick into the end zone.
- On the second play of the drive, Gerard Thomas rumbles for another big run down into St. Thomas territory near midfield.
- Osceola has been able to move the ball on St. Thomas so far. This could be a shootout.
- Osceola has marched inside the St. Thomas 10 yard line behind its running game. But there is a big third down coming up.
- The Kowboys respond with a 10-yard touchdown run by Bubba Brown. Brown already has 10 carries, 86 yards and a score with 3:06 left to play in the first quarter. Chris Elsterman gets a bit lucky on the extra point as a St. Thomas player raced right passed the ball instead of blocking it. STA 7, OSCEOLA 7.
STA's 2nd Drive
- Two touches, two touchdowns. St. Thomas Aquinas scores on another big play when linebacker Conor O'Neil fields a short kickoff, runs around the corner and down the sideline for a 74-yard kickoff return. STA 14, OSCEOLA 7.
OSCEOLA's 3rd Drive
- Another Osceola drive starts at its own 20.
- Bubba Brown just sent three St. Thomas guys to the deck. What a tough runner. He picked up 24 yards on the first carry of this drive.
- Well, after getting pushed around for much of the first quarter, St. Thomas is bringing pressure up the middle now with linebackers and safeties. It's been effective for a few plays. It might be what St. Thomas needs to disrupt Osceola's offense.
- St. Thomas finally catches a break -- on defense -- when Brown fumbles and William Nesselt fell on it at the St. Thomas 37 yard line. END OF THE 1st QUARTER
SECOND QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS...
STA's 3rd Drive
- St. Thomas faces an early third down and long, but Phillip Pierre-Louis picks up the first down on quick curl pass from quarterback Ryan Becker.
- Can you say too much speed? St. Thomas is spreading the love around. After Becker connected with Harden on a nice screen pass, junior Ronnie Kennedy took a handoff and rumbled for 20 yards to the Osceola 25.
- On the next play, though, St. Thomas turned the ball right back over when Giovanni Lambert drops the ball and Patrick Lambert falls on it at the Osceola 15.
I missed a couple of possessions because I was on the phone with University of Miami men's basketball coach Frank Haith.
Here's what I missed... St. Thomas recovered a fumble then cashed in when Duron Carter hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass with 4:11 to play in the half. STA 21, OSCEOLA 7.
St. Thomas had a chance to run out the clock in the first half, but opted to try and score. It backfired. Bobo Thomas returned a punt 85 yards with :31 left to make it 21-13.