BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School varsity football squad fell 21-14 to the Fort Pierce Central Cobras on Friday, Aug. 23 in the Wildcats’ pre-season kickoff classic. The loss came despite a late rally in the final two minutes of play. The host Wildcats had entered the second half with a 7-6 lead.
Fort Pierce Central managed to draw first blood with a short 2-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats responded with a 16-play drive that consumed nearly five minutes of the game clock. Junior running back Charles Perry reached pay dirt on a 1-yard rush to tie the game. Devin Wallace’s extra-point kick gave the Wildcats the 7-6 lead, which stood until halftime.
Cobra quarterback Sam Vaughn orchestrated a 70-yard drive, including a 55-yard run of his own to start the second half. Fort Pierce scored on a 1-yard run, and Vaughn’s 2-point conversion gave the Cobra’s back the lead, 14-7.
Penalties and an interception plagued the Wildcats in the second half. Royal Palm Beach’s defense played tough, and both offensive units had a difficult time moving the ball consistently in the third quarter.
Vaughn again ran for a 60-yard gain in fourth quarter, which led to a 13-yard touchdown run by Cobra running back Joseph Clark, to extend the Fort Pierce lead to 21-7.
Royal Palm Beach responded with a late touchdown. Quarterback Jimmy Moreland scampered in for the score on a 3-yard run with 1:28 remaining in the contest. The Wildcats defense responded as well, holding the Cobras to a punt situation.
Royal Palm Beach had to use all of their timeouts on defense to stop the clock. The strategy worked, and the Wildcats managed to get the ball back with less than 30 seconds on the game-clock. The Wildcats drove inside the Cobra 18-yard line but were unable to convert the drive into points.
Royal Palm Beach turned the ball over on downs. The Cobras ran out the few seconds left on the clock, taking the 21-14 victory.
Key performers were senior linebacker Zeke Edmunds with a crucial sack for a 9-yard loss on a critical third and goal situation. Moreland and Perry were both credited with a score. Quarterback Toddy Centeio got some playing time late in the fourth quarter. The freshman played an integral role in the late drive for the Wildcats, completing his first pass for a first down and several rushes for positive yards.
The Wildcats head to Palm Beach Central on Friday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. to open the regular season.
ABOVE: Royal Palm Beach running back Charles Perry tries to stay on his feet.