BY GENE NARDI
On Friday, Sept. 16, the Seminole Ridge High School football team hosted Palm Beach Gardens High School in a District 9-8A matchup and fell to the Gators 30-12.
The Hawks were coming off a bye week after a dominating performance in Orlando against Sulphur Springs Texas. Palm Beach Gardens entered the contest at 1-2 after a disappointing performance against state-ranked Vero Beach.
Both teams started the game knowing that they needed to come out with a win to get the edge in the district. The Hawk offense clicked in their last performance, scoring 49 points, and proved equally as dominating on defense, allowing just 10 points.
Early on, the Hawks appeared as they would continue to pour it on, carrying over into district play. Seminole Ridge cornerback Stefano Napolitano intercepted a Palm Beach Gardens pass in the first quarter to give the Hawks possession. The turnover gave the Hawks the opportunity to strike first, and they did just that, capping a 75-yard drive with a 14-yard run by Jeremiah Brown. The Hawks’ point-after attempt was no good, but the Seminole Ridge quickly grabbed an early 6-0 lead.
On the Gators’ next possession, with a fourth-and-one, the team elected to attempt to move the chains, being down 6-0 and at the Seminole Ridge 25-yard line. Cornerback Tremayne King stopped the Gators quarterback behind the line to turn over the ball on downs.
But the Hawks could not capitalize on the defensive stand. The Gators eventually responded with a 44-yard touchdown pass and with the point-after kick stole the lead 7-6. Seminole Ridge drove down the field into Palm Beach Gardens territory, but a stubborn Gator defense forced the Hawks’ field-goal unit onto the field to attempt a 40-yarder that fell just short to close out the second quarter.
Palm Beach Gardens struck again on another big play. This time, a touchdown pass of 68 yards extended the Gator lead to 14-6. The Gators would put up a field goal to expand the margin to 17-6 at the close of the first half. The Hawks had difficulty making adjustments to close the gap.
The second half started slow offensively for both teams. Both defensive units made it difficult to sustain a drive long enough to carve out some points onto the scoreboard. The Gators and the Hawks combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter, but Seminole Ridge had trouble outscoring the Gardens offense, as big plays continued to haunt the Hawks.
Quarterback Antoine Williams ran the last Hawk touchdown in on a sneak up the middle. Palm Beach Gardens did just enough in the final quarter of play to take the 30-12 victory.
Brown had eight carries for 50 yards and a score, and running back Dylan Mohl had six carries for 29 yards for the Hawks. Receiver Leroy Woods had two receptions for 36 yards for the Hawks.
The loss marks the second of the season for the Hawks (1-2, 0-1). District games pay large dividends when won, making it easier to secure a playoff berth. District games are still looming against Jupiter, Palm Beach Central and Wellington, which still give the Hawks a chance to secure a playoff spot.
Until district play resumes, the Hawks will host Royal Palm Beach High School on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Although the game is not a district contest, the game between the two schools has developed into a rivalry where they play for the “Best of the West” trophy. Royal Palm Beach defeated the Hawks last year and currently retains the trophy.
ABOVE: Seminole Ridge running back Jeremiah Brown runs to the outside for a big gain.