BY GENE NARDI
The Seminole Ridge High School football team traveled to take on host Wellington High School in a much-anticipated district matchup Friday, Sept. 30. Both teams needed the victory to remain in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot as the postseason draws near. Seminole Ridge managed to hold on for a 37-27 win.
Wellington (3-3, 1-1 in District 9-8A) made an early statement that it would pull no punches on the night, when it attempted to convert on fourth-and-five at its own 35-yard line. The attempt fell short, putting the Hawks in position to take an early lead, and they did just that.
Freshman running back Corey Polk scampered off for the 25-yard touchdown up the center for the game’s first score. A false start on the point-after attempt put the Hawks half the distance of the goal. It was Seminole Ridge (3-2, 1-1 in District 9-8A) making a statement, scoring the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead in the first quarter.
Wellington had difficulty battling through early penalties, having two touchdowns called back, but eventually closed the gap with a 33-yard Logan Robinson field goal to cut the margin to 8-3. Wolverine quarterback Ben Schmickle then found receiver Jymetre Hester on a 28-yard touchdown pass to give Wellington its first lead of the game, 10-8.
Wellington recovered the onside kick to regain possession in midfield. Two plays later, Schmickle connected with Mark Anthony Richards for a 51-yard touchdown pass to extend its lead to 17-8 to start the second quarter.
The Hawks then went to work on offense, grinding out 80 yards while chewing up the clock, and capped the drive with a 1-yard run by quarterback Michael Adeyanju. Another successful Hawk two-point conversion made it a one-point game, with Wellington hanging on 17-16.
Running back Kristian Gonzalez delivered another blow to the Wolverines when he broke a tackle inside and darted off 56 yards for the score to give Seminole Ridge back the lead, 23-17. The Hawks’ ground-and-pound offense showed little signs of letting up, but with everything at stake, the Hawks went to the air. Adeyanju surprised the Wolverine defense with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Brown to give the Hawks a 30-17 edge at halftime.
Wellington’s defense found some rhythm, holding off the Hawks for the third quarter, and closed the gap with a Robinson 38-yard field goal, cutting the Seminole Ridge lead to 30-20. The Wolverines continued to gain momentum on offense. Schmickle linked up with receiver D.J. Dobkins on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it a 3-point game at 30-27 at the end of the third quarter.
However, the Wolverines ran out of steam on defense and could not corral Gonzalez, who punched it in for the final score to seal the Hawks win, 37-27, late in the fourth quarter.
Gonzalez had 177 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. Brown had a touchdown reception. Polk had 44 yards rushing and a touchdown.
For Wellington, Schmickle had 291 yards passing and three touchdowns. Running back Marvin Pierre had 31 yards rushing. Defensive end Patrick Mark had an interception.
Seminole Ridge will host Boynton Beach High School on Friday, Oct. 7, while Wellington will be on the road to face state-ranked William T. Dwyer High School. Both games start at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Seminole Ridge running back Kristian Gonzalez is off to the races on a 56-yard touchdown run.