Penalty flags littered the field in Osseo on Saturday in a rematch battle of Northwest Suburban foes, but the Orioles defense clamped down on Maple Grove long enough for their offense to redeem itself for first-half miscues and come away with a 20-14 victory in the Class 5A, Section 5 semifinals.
"Our defense played awesome," Osseo coach Derrin Lamker said. "It was a tough game and could have gone either way, but our guys stayed composed, and good things happened."
Relying on late-game heroics for the third time this month, Osseo finally found a groove in the second half. Senior quarterback D.J. Herbert capped a long drive with a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, tying the score 14-14. In the fourth quarter, senior running back Tim Searcy tiptoed the sideline for a 59-yard score that would prove to be the difference in the game.
Osseo junior Bridgeport Tusler scored on an 82-yard run on the game's second play to give the Orioles (9-1) a 7-0 lead.
But Maple Grove (4-6) took the lead before the first quarter ended and held it into the second half, aided by missed Osseo tackles and good field position. Running back Roman Collins accounted for all of the Crimson's points, on touchdown runs of 24 and 18 yards and a two-point conversion.
When Osseo players weren't being called for false starts, blocks in the back or holding penalties, they were bobbling snaps, dropping passes and muffing kickoffs. Crucial first-half mistakes cost the Orioles dozens of yards and even negated a scoring play.
But Fafa Asante and the Orioles defense held firm and shut out Maple Grove for the rest of the game. Even the deadly Crimson aerial attack wasn't able to find the end zone.
The Orioles, who beat Maple Grove 13-2 earlier this season, will head south Friday to take on Wayzata in the Section 5 title game.