BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School varsity football team hosted Class 8A rival Seminole Ridge High School in a regional quarterfinal game Friday, Nov. 16 and defeated the Hawks 35-20.
Seminole Ridge (6-5) came into the game looking for revenge from its regular-season loss to the Broncos (8-3). The game was played to a full-house crowd and did not disappoint in this much-anticipated match-up. Emotions ran high on the gridiron from start to finish.
Both teams punted on their first possession, but it was Palm Beach Central’s offense that struck first when running back Tommy McDonald took off up the middle and ran 75 yards for a touchdown. Jordan Acham’s point-after kick gave the Broncos an early 7-0 lead.
The lead was short lived. Seminole Ridge responded by first converting on two fourth downs to keep the chains moving, and then capped a 65-yard drive with Jalen Young’s 3-yard touchdown run. Jacob Curran’s point-after kick tied the game 7-7.
With just 5:07 remaining in the half, Palm Beach Central quarterback Kevin Bramhall connected with Kemar Downer on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Downer broke several tackles to reach the end zone and reclaim the lead for the Broncos. Acham’s kick made it 14-7.
Seminole Ridge mounted another impressive drive, converting again on a fourth and four. The Hawks managed to drive to the Palm Beach Central 1 yard line, but coughed up the ball, turning it over to the Broncos with seconds left on the clock to end the half.
In the second half, Palm Beach Central struck again when Bramhall connected with Downer on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Acham’s kick extended the lead to 21-7. Seminole Ridge’s offense struggled in the third quarter, but a Bronco fumble gave the Hawks new life. Seminole Ridge running back Kerrith Whyte ran in for the score from 16 yards out. Curran’s kick closed the gap to 21-14.
Palm Beach Central running back Jhnard Dorsett then delivered a crushing blow to the Hawk defense when he ran around the left side 20 yards for the score. Acham’s kick stretched the Bronco lead to 28-14.
Seminole Ridge quarterback Zach DeCosta threw a bullet to tight end Mario Anselmo for a 55-yard gain. A few plays later, Whyte ran it in from 6 yards out. The point after attempt was wide to make the score 28-20. The Hawks’ comeback was cut short when McDonald’s late 57-yard run with 1:36 remaining put the game out of reach. Acham’s kick would make the final score 35-20.
“We’ve been working hard all week, and the kids came in real focused,” Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said. “I knew it was going to be a battle.”
The Broncos will host Palm Beach Gardens High School on Friday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the second round of the regional playoffs.
ABOVE: Tommy McDonald finds some running room.