BY GENE NARDI
William T. Dwyer High School was the host venue for this year’s Florida vs. Georgia Clash of the Scholar Athlete All-Star Game held Saturday, Jan. 4. Team Florida defeated Georgia 28-21 in a football thriller that went down to the final whistle.
This marks the second year of the contest between the two states. Florida won last year’s game 29-7.
Several senior athletes from Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Central high schools were chosen to participate on Team Florida.
Both teams closed out the first quarter tied 7-7. It was Georgia that would take the lead 14-7 early in the second quarter, but Team Florida clawed back to tie the game 14-14 with four minutes to play in the first half when Palm Beach Central senior running back Jhnard Dorestt crossed the goal line from one yard out. Florida later recovered a Georgia fumble, but could not convert the turnover into points, and the half ended 14-14.
Georgia regained the lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass, and settled in on a 21-14 advantage five minutes into the second half. Florida tied the game again on a 40-yard touchdown pass to close the third quarter 21-21.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, Florida was forced to punt. On Georgia’s first play, Royal Palm Beach senior defensive back Jimmy Moreland produced the pivotal play of the game when he leaped over the Georgia receiver to intercept the pass on the Florida sideline.
“We were in man-to-man coverage and, when I heard everybody say ‘ball,’ I just went for it,” he said.
The interception gave Florida possession on the Georgia 49 yard line. Three plays later, Florida converted the turnover into the go-ahead touchdown on an 8-yard run.
Florida was able to hold off a late Georgia rally by creating two more interceptions, winning its second consecutive all-star game against Team Georgia 28-21.
The game was intense in the trenches, boasting some of the most talented linemen in the Southeast.
“Georgia brought some big linemen down, but we’re used to seeing big linemen here, so we were prepared,” said Kyle Thies, a Royal Palm Beach senior lineman.
“I knew this was my very last high school game, so I was going to go out there and play as hard as I can,” added Royal Palm Beach lineman Junior Pierre.
Local players made impact plays contributing to Team Florida’s victory. Dorsett’s touchdown run and Moreland’s key interception changed the momentum of the game.
This unique contest gave the seniors one more opportunity to showcase their abilities on the field, in hopes for drawing attention from college coaches from around the country.
Area athletes that participated in the game were Jimmy Moreland, Kyle Thies, Josh Wilson, Junior Pierre and Anthony James from Royal Palm Beach High School, and Jhnard Dorsett, Rudolph St. Germain, Trinton Hanson, Joe Guthrie and Alex Coren from Palm Beach Central High School.
ABOVE: PBCHS running back Jhnard Dorsett runs for a big gain.