BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School varsity football team topped Palm Beach Gardens 27-19 in the Broncos’ first-ever playoff win in school history Friday, Nov. 16 before a capacity home crowd.
The much-anticipated match-up even drew the attention of Mother Nature, which dropped sheets of rain during the third quarter. The rematch between the two teams was everything expected. Bronco senior Lloyd Howard snatched an interception with under 25 seconds remaining to lock down the win, putting an end to the Gators’ post-season play.
Palm Beach Central’s offense got things rolling from the start with Tommy McDonald’s 2-yard touchdown run, capping off a 57-yard, 10-play drive. Cameron Golob’s point-after kick gave the Broncos the early lead at 7-0. Near the end of the first quarter, Palm Beach Gardens tied the contest at 7-7 with a 47-yard touchdown pass. Palm Beach Central was able to recapture the lead with Golob’s second-quarter, 33-yard field goal to close the half at 10-7.
The Gator offense took the field to start the second half and, like the Broncos earlier, marched down the field, capping off an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Palm Beach Gardens’ point-after attempt was wide, giving them the lead at 13-10. The Broncos watched their chance at victory seem to slip away as the Gator defense intercepted a Palm Beach Central pass, with a big return to the Palm Beach Central 6 yard line. On the next play the Gators would punch in their second touchdown of the night, extending their lead to 19-10. Palm Beach Central bounced back with a big kick return to mid-field but was forced to punt.
The Broncos finally kicked into gear in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 unanswered points. Palm Beach Central made the score 19-17 when Nick Cassandra pulled down a Kevin Bramhall 11-yard touchdown pass, adding Golob’s point-after kick. After a missed Gator field goal, the Broncos extended their lead when McDonald broke through the middle on a 60-yard touchdown run. Golob’s point-after kick made the score 27-19.
It was Howard’s interception that finished off the Gators’ come-back drive. As the Bronco offense ran out the final seconds on the clock, the Palm Beach Central sidelines celebrated the school’s first-ever playoff victory.
The Broncos piled up 286 rushing yards and totaled 16 first downs. Howard is credited with 170 rushing yards and the game-finishing interception. McDonald had two scores. Cassandra is credited with one touchdown and Golob with two field goals.
The Broncos will face cross-town rival Seminole Ridge on Friday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hawks’ home.
Above: Bronco Rudolph St. Germain is tackled by the Gator defense after catching a pass.