Salem, Mo. – For the Osage Indians, the 2013 season is officially over.
Heading to Salem on Thursday, the Indians knew they would have a tough matchup against Salem, as the Tigers secured the number 4 spot over the number five Indians by a margin of just .08 points in the new district playoff system.
Combine what was already bound to be a close match with wet weather and a muddy field, and it was bound to be even closer. The final outcome of the game was decided by another small margin, as Salem advanced in the district tournament with a 43-40 win over Osage.
Salem jumped out to an early lead, with running back Zayne Kyser punching in from five yards out to score, and with a two-point conversion, the Tigers led 8-0. Salem managed to block a punt on Osage’s next drive, giving them the ball on Osage’s 8-yard line, and Kyser again pushed his way through to add to the lead, with the extra point making it a 15-point game.
QB Austin Riley and the Indians would answer with 8 minutes left in the first half, as Riley hit Collin Samuelson with a 7-yard pass for the touchdown. Jake Ulmer’s extra point pulled the Indians within 8 points, and after a Dylan Jeffries pick and a pair of Salem penalties, Riley rushed the ball in for a 4-yard score, as they trailed 15-13.
Just before the end of the half, Kyser visited Osage’s end zone once again, putting the Tigers up 22-13, and with seconds left on the clock, Osage managed to work their way down, but the half ended with a Salem interception on the 2-yard line.
The Tigers opened up the second half in similar fashion to the first, with Kyser carrying the load, but this time, the drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by QB Dylan Wisdom to increase Salem’s lead to 29-13.
With minutes left in the third quarter, Justin Heiser came up big for the Indians, stripping the ball for a Salem turnover. A pass from Riley to Heiser put the Indians in scoring position, setting up a 10-yard pass from Riley to Ulmer to trail 29-19.
The fourth quarter proved to be the most exciting quarter of the game, as Osage unleashed every trick in their book. Trailing 29-19, Osage’s defense continued to be plagued by Kyser, who scored again with 9 minutes left in the game to increase the lead to 35-19.
Dylan Jeffries, however, snatched a pass from Riley with seven and a half minutes left, taking it 28 yards for a touchdown after a 59-yard kickoff return by Heiser.
Kyser wasn’t about to let that go unanswered, though, and scored his fifth touchdown of the night to maintain their lead with a score of 43-26. Kyser finished the game with an eye-popping for 338 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
Osage rallied back after this with explosive plays, with Austin Riley scrambling in to score with 3:19 left in the game. Five seconds later, the Indians recovered an onside kick, and after a long pass to Jeffries, Riley found Ulmer for a 23-yard touchdown catch, and with a two-point conversion, the Indians had swung the momentum of the game, trailing 43-40 with 2:49 left in the game.
Kyser, however, saved the day, as he converted a 4th and 5 to allow the Tigers to run the clock out for the win.
Osage finished the season with a 3-7 record, while Salem advances to 5-5. The Tigers now head to Eldon on Wednesday to take on the number-one seeded Eldon Mustangs at 7 p.m.