OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — It came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but the California Pintos were unable to get their first victory of the season. The Pintos (0-3) fell to the Osage Indians (2-1) 20-14 on Sept. 13.
California led for most of the game, but Osage would score 14 points in the fourth quarter — including what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 5:10 left in the game — to complete the comeback.
Quarterback Calen Kruger threw the first passing touchdown of the season for California to Clayton Winkler for a five-yard touchdown to give California a 7-0 lead with 9:25 in the first quarter. That score would be the first time the Pintos had the lead this season.
Osage tied the game up at 7-7, thanks to a 24-yard touchdown pass with 3:35 left in the first quarter. The Pintos responded on their next drive by marching down the field and, after a flag on a run by Logan Parish, finding themselves with a first down inside the red zone.
Kruger then threw his second touchdown of the game as he rolled out toward the home team's sideline and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Drake Schlup to give California a 14-7 lead with 2:12 in the first quarter.
After that score, the game became a defensive struggle as both teams played tough defense. Osage looked to tie the game with 8:52 left before halftime as the team reached the red zone. But an interception by Dawson Gump on the Pintos' 18-yard line stopped the Indians' drive. California would not be able to score on its next drive, and Osage would get the ball back. On the next drive, the Pintos' defense came away with its second takeaway of the game, as Bryant Davis intercepted a pass near midfield with only a few seconds left before halftime. The Pintos left the half still up 14-7.
The score stayed the same until the fourth quarter. In the final quarter, Osage had the ball on the California 32-yard line and converted a fourth and short to keep the drive alive. Osage eventually got to a first and goal on the Pintos three-yard line. It looked like California had gotten a lucky break, as on second down the snap sailed past Osage's quarterback and rolled all the way back to around the 10-yard line before the Indians recovered the ball.
But on the next play, the Pintos were called for pass interference on a pass into the end zone, which led to Osage getting the ball inside the 10-yard line again. The Indians then tied the game on the next play on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 7:35 left in the game.
After the kickoff, California had the ball near the 50-yard line. But the Pintos lost the ball on a fumble on the first play of the possession, and the Indians recovered at the 48-yard line. Osage went on to take the lead, but a bad snap on the extra point led to a desperation heave into the end zone by the Indian's holder that was foiled by California's defense.
Head coach Derek Scroggins said it had been a long time since the team had been in a game like this one.
"Some of our kids honestly looked worried about losing the lead. Instead of playing confident, we played timid," Scroggins said. "Really, the positive we take from this is that I felt like tonight we learned how to compete. Learning how to win is still a process, and our kids are hurting now, which is what we want when we lose a six-point game like that."
The Pintos had to punt the ball away on the next possession, but had one last chance after California's defense forced Osage to punt as well with just around 2:00 left. The Pintos were unable to tie the game, turning the ball over on downs. Osage took a couple of knees to end the game.
There were a couple of times in the game where California just missed connecting on a few long passes. Scroggins said the team is getting closer with those passes .
"We are talking about high school kids. I've got a sophomore quarterback out there, and we had two (long passes) that were pretty close," Scroggins said. "They are timing routes and so really I looked at it as it is good we are getting closer. We are closer in week three than we were in week one, so it is showing that our practice is paying off there.
"I firmly believe it is going to start to click, and we are going to be able to hit some of those. On our last drive when we threw down the middle 55 yards in the air, we came about three inches away. You can watch an NFL game and see a quarterback miss by more than that. So really, I look at it as we are taking steps in the right direction, and our kids are doing what we ask of them, and I felt like they did a good job competing."
California's next game is 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at home against the Boonville Pirates (2-1). Boonville is coming off a 38-21 loss to Blair Oaks.