The Palm Beach Central High School football squad could not hold on to a 12-0 halftime lead over Davie’s Western High School in a Class 8A regional semifinal contest Friday, Nov. 18, falling to the Wildcats 14-12 in Wellington. The late rally by Western ended the Broncos’ run in the post-season. Palm Beach Central entered the game as the top seed after Western eliminated Deerfield Beach last week.
The Broncos (8-3, 4-0) ended Seminole Ridge’s post-season hopes the week before, shutting out the Hawks 32-0. Western will move on to the regional finals against Atlantic High School, and the winner will advance to the state final four in Orlando.
The Broncos drove to the Western 31-yard line on their first possession of the game but came up short. The Palm Beach Central defense was solid during the first half, not allowing a Wildcat score. The Broncos, again, drove near the Western red zone, but could not convert the drive into points as the first quarter ended.
Palm Beach Central opened the second quarter with the game’s first score. Bronco quarterback Nick Atkins connected with receiver Bryan Robinson on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The point-after attempt failed, but the Broncos led 6-0. Western responded with a long drive to the Bronco 20-yard line, but a stingy defense denied the Wildcats the equalizer when defensive back Akeem Dent intercepted a deep Western pass and returned it 35 yards to give the Broncos prime field position.
Western’s turnover proved deadly, as the Broncos capitalized with another score. Atkins found receiver Fornoris Roberts and slightly overthrew him, but Roberts stretched his body through the air to make the catch, and landed in the end zone for the touchdown.
Palm Beach Central seemed to control the game with a 12-0 lead late in the first half. A late Bronco turnover gave Western another opportunity to close in on the Bronco lead, but they could not penetrate a tough Palm Beach Central defense, and the Broncos led at the half 12-0.
Palm Beach Central had multiple opportunities to put the game away, but they could not convert on fourth-down possessions, and seemed to have difficulty in the kicking game. With seconds remaining in the third quarter, Western faked a punt to move the chains and retain possession. The fake led to their first score of the game, with a one-yard touchdown run to close in on the Bronco lead 12-7.
A momentum swing was evident midway through the final quarter. Western had more success moving the ball against the Palm Beach Central defense. The Wildcats drove to the Bronco 6-yard line, and scored on a short pass in the end zone, but it was nullified by an illegal shift call.
Western pushed to the 1-yard line, giving them a first-and-goal with just over a minute to play in the game. With 58 seconds on the clock, the Wildcats punched in the go-ahead score from a yard out. The kick lifted them to their first lead of the game, 14-12.
Palm Beach Central knew the ensuing possession would be their last, and began to go to work on the Western defense. The Broncos converted on a fourth-and-10 to move the chains, advancing to midfield, but their drive was eventually snuffed out by a resurrected Wildcat defense. The stand gave Western the 14-12 victory as time expired, which ended the Broncos’ post-season run.
Palm Beach Central finished the season, their best in three years, at 8-3 (4-0 in the district).