CALIFORNIA — The California Pintos knew they would have to be at their sharpest to upset the School of the Osage Indians on Friday. For a quarter, the Pintos truly were at their best.
After surrendering a touchdown 83 seconds into the game, California scored on its first two offensive drives to go up 12-7 on the Indians.
While the first quarter ended with a 1-point Osage lead, it was the final three frames that doomed California.
In the end, five turnovers were too much for California to overcome as the Pintos closed their regular season with a 40-19 loss to the Indians.
"I thought the kids played hard," California coach Marty Albertson said. "Early we made some plays, but you can't beat a good team with five turnovers. I know we're not trying to turn the ball over, but if we don't have those five turnovers, it's a completely different game."
The Indians (8-1) came out charging as Zach Wheeler's first completion of the game went 31 yards to Jason Edwards for the game's opening score.
Wheeler finished the game 19-of-29 for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Edwards was the leading receiver for Osage with 67 yards and caught both of Wheeler's touchdowns — the second of which came early in the second quarter to put Osage up one score.
Following that tough opening drive defensively, the Pintos (2-7) marched right down the field via running back Cory Friedmeyer. The junior had 47 yards on the opening series and capped it off with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Friedmeyer was the game's leading rusher with 126 yards on 17 carries. He also set up California's second touchdown drive by recovering a fumbled Osage pitch.
The Pintos' brief lead came on the first play following the turnover when Jacob Wolken hit Jacob Adams on a 27-yard touchdown pass. With six catches, 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Adams had the most productive game any receiver has had all year for California.
The Indians regained the lead for good on a 12-yard sweep run by Dalton Depee. The sophomore led a committee of backs with 69 yards rushing. Depee also added a second score late on a 41-yard sweep.
Three of California's last four drives of the first half ended in miscues. The Pintos fumbled twice — one of which came on a failed pitch — and also had a punt blocked by Depee.
Trailing 26-12 at the break, the Pintos cut the deficit in half in the third quarter when Wolken and Adams connected for the second time on a 35-yard touchdown strike.
California's offense struggled for the game's remainder as Depee proved to be a thorn in the Pintos' side in all three facets of the game when he picked off a Wolken pass. Ian Riley added a pick for Osage in the second half as well.
The Indians got nice performances from two other Rileys as well, as Dylan Riley scored on a pair of touchdown runs and Nick Riley had 59 yards rushing on a team-high 10 carries.
With a 6-1 record in the Tri-County Conference, Osage finishes second in league play, while California ends its conference season 2-5 and in a three-way tie for fifth place with Hallsville and Versailles.