BY GENE NARDI
The Seminole Ridge High School varsity football team hosted Park Vista High School on Friday, Sept. 12 and bested the Cobras 23-14 after a rocky start.
The strong finish gives the Hawks a 2-1 record on the season, as well as a two-week rest.
Head coach Scott Barnwell said the upcoming bye week is much-needed, since the Hawks had several players sustain injuries during the game.
Park Vista marked the scoreboard early with a 26-yard run in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. The Hawks struggled early on, but played well defensively to keep the Cobras out of the end zone for the rest of the half.
Seminole Ridge did manage to put together a drive, but had to settle for a 43-yard Jacob Curran field goal, cutting the Cobra lead to four and ending the half down 7-3.
“We’re still in the game,” Barnwell told his squad at halftime. “Keep playing tough and we will win.”
The pep talk was exactly what the Hawks needed, as it seemed like the tale of Jekyll and Hyde between their first-half and second-half performances.
The team exploded offensively, controlling the line of scrimmage and doing what they are known for — ground and pound. But it was an early air attack from quarterback James Parson to Jalen Young for a 55-yard gain that eventually set up a Jordan Tanner 11-yard run for the end zone to give the Hawks the lead. Curran’s kick was wide left, and Seminole Ridge took a 9-7 lead.
Park Vista took the ensuing possession to the Seminole Ridge 5-yard line, only to fumble away the ball. Two plays later, Tanner ran around the right sideline 78 yards for the touchdown. Curran’s kick extended the Hawks’ lead to 16-7.
The Cobras, desperate to close the gap, took to the air, only to turn the rock over again. This time it was cornerback Chase Johnston pulling it down for the interception and returning it back to the Park Vista 10-yard line.
It appeared the Hawks were on their way to a second half rout, but Young took a handoff to the left side and was hit hard by Cobra defenders, coughing up the ball, and Park Vista cornerback Jean Luc-Haven scooped it up and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown, which brought the Cobras within two at 16-14.
Late in the fourth quarter, a shanked Park Vista punt from their own end zone gave the Hawks the break they needed.
Seminole Ridge found the end zone for the last time with under four minutes to play, when Young scrambled around the outside for the score. Curran’s kick extended the lead to 23-14.
The Seminole Ridge defense stood tall before the Cobra offense, forcing a fourth and long, only to turn over the ball on downs. The Hawks would hold on for the come-from-behind 23-14 victory.
Tanner led the pack with 13 carries for 140 yards and two scores. Kerrith Whyte had seven rushes for 70 yards. Young is credited with a touchdown. Defenders Shaquille Bussey and Chase Johnston each had an interception. Parson threw six of 14 for 100 yards.
Seminole Ridge is off this week and will host rival Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
ABOVE: Seminole Ridge defenders Cristian Hodges and Patrick Brooks swarm a Cobra ball carrier.