BEAUMONT — Hemet and Beaumont were fighting to stay relevant in the Mountain Pass League race on Friday night.
Hemet forced five turnovers, turning two Cougars fumbles into touchdowns as the Bulldogs picked up their first league victory of the season with a 35-20 victory at San Gorgonio Middle School.
"Our kids really needed this win. I'm so proud of them," said Hemet coach Jeff Reitz. "Our defense came up huge for us."
No one was bigger than Hemet senior linebacker Jacob Osborne, who scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter as the Bulldogs took charge.
In the span of 11 seconds, Osborne returned a fumbled lateral 65 yards for a touchdown. After Matt Parker's extra point for Hemet tied the score 14-14 with 10 minutes, 2 seconds left in the third quarter, Parker kicked a perfect onside kick that Zach Holbert recovered and returned to the Beaumont 45.
On the next play, Hemet quarterback Austin Bozell hit Holbert on a bubble screen and he outran the Beaumont defense for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead.
Holbert came up big on Beaumont's next possession, picking off Cougars backup quarterback J.J. Lewis on the Hemet 32 to secure the Bulldogs' lead.
After a three-and-out series, Hemet punted and Rozell pinned the Cougars on the Beaumont 4.
Two plays later, Osborne got his second defensive touchdown, recovering Lewis' fumbled snap in the end zone. With 4:32 left in the third quarter, Hemet had an insurmountable 28-14 lead.
"We knew going into the game that we needed this to go to the playoffs," Osborne said. "We have to win three straight to get there."
The Bulldogs took advantage of five turnovers from the Cougars.
Conversely, Hemet only had one turnover, a Rozell interception in the first quarter that Beaumont's Martin Chavez returned 22 yards for a touchdown. Rozell threw for 208 yards to supply most the of the Hemet offense.
The Bulldogs closed the scoring with a Josh Stone 1-yard leap into the end with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter to put away the Cougars.