Defensive touchdowns started and ended the scoring parade as the Centennial Cougars won the regular-season finale over the Osseo Orioles 42-21 at home Wednesday evening.
The Cougars will take a 6-2 record and No. 10 ranking into the Class 6A playoffs starting Friday, Oct. 25.
On the fourth play of the game, Jake Pierson had a gift-wrapped touchdown fall into his hands. An Osseo back fumbled the ball up in the air when tackled by Garret Strating, and cornerback Pierson snagged it on the run with 36 yards of open field in front of him.
Connor Zulk heaved touchdown passes of 42 and 11 yards to Carter Anderson on the Cougars’ first two possessions and they led 21-7 at the first stop.
The Cougars got one-yard TD’s from Austin Wlaschin in the second quarter and Noah Larson in the fourth, and Timothy O’Neill capped it off with a 44-yard interception return.
The Cougars lost three fumbles in the second half to keep the game fairly close.
“We were fumbling the ball, and that’s the only way they stopped us,” coach Mike Diggins said. “We only punted once. Our defense played well again but we gave them short fields. Osseo has good athletes, and they are all juniors. They will be a good team next year.”
The Cougars fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and the Orioles scored on the next play. Later in the period, Zulk broke a 70-yard run but fumbled on the six.
Osseo, moving the ball mainly on passes, was within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter but the Cougars responded with a 17-play, 10-minute drove to open a 35-21 lead. Then O’Nieill’s pick six sealed the deal.
The Cougars tied for first place in their district with a 5-1 record, same as Totino-Grace and Champlin Park.
Zulk gained 86 yards in 10 carries and competed three of six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, all of them to Anderson.
Wlaschin gained 72 yards in 23 carries, Noah Larson 50 yards in 12 carries, and Timothy O’Neill 50 yards in four carries, as the Cougars averaged 6.6 yards per attempt.
Osseo …………….... 7 0 7 7 — 21
Centennial ……….. 21 7 0 14 — 42
Cen — Jake Pierson 36 fumble recovery return (Ricky Hemric kick)
Cen — Carter Anderson 42 pass from Connor Zulk (Hemric kick)
Cen — Anderson 11 pass from Zulk (Hemrick kick)
Cen — Austin Wlaschin 1 run (Hemric kick)
Cen — Noah Larson 1 run (Hemric kick)
Cen — Timothy O’Neill 44 interception return (Hemric kick)