BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School varsity football squad traveled to meet rival Seminole Ridge High School on Friday, Sept. 26, upsetting the eighth-ranked Hawks 28-14 before a capacity crowd.
The Broncos started the season 0-3, but managed to get back-to-back wins. The slow start seemed like déjà vu to the Broncos (2-3, 1-0) as they experienced a similar start last season, but managed to win the district title, including a big playoff win against the Hawks.
This victory marks the third straight Bronco win over the Hawks.
“We live by our motto, ‘we’re all we got, we’re all we need,’” said first-year head coach Tino Ierulli.
The match-up drew a lot of attention in the local sports community, so much so that it was the televised game of the week.
Early in the contest, both teams struggled to muster any points, but it was the Broncos who scored first, when receiver Kemar Downer ran it in from 4 yards out. Nick Petrone’s kick gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead.
Palm Beach Central was able to hold on to end the half with the score still 7-0.
Turnovers proved to haunt the Hawks (2-2). Quarterback James Parson threw two picks, which the Broncos were able to convert into points.
Downer grabbed an early second-half interception that led to the second Bronco score. Palm Beach Central quarterback Savion Harris connected with receiver Adarius Dent for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Petrone’s kick extended the Bronco lead to 14-0.
Seminole Ridge running back Kerrith Whyte returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to give the Hawks good field position. The Hawks twice gambled on fourth-down plays to move the chains. Whyte eventually drove in for the score on a 2-yard carry. Jacob Curran’s kick closed the gap to 14-7 in the third quarter.
However, another mistake proved costly for the Hawks when they were forced to punt, and a high snap sailed over Curran’s head and was recovered by the Broncos at the Hawk’s 4-yard line. Palm Beach Central was able to capitalize. Harris connected with Larry Dunnon, this time from 4 yards out. Petrone’s kick made it 21-7 in the fourth quarter.
Dunnon struck another blow to Seminole Ridge with a 79-yard run for the touchdown. Petrone’s kick appeared to seal it for the Broncos with a 28-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But Seminole Ridge would not go down without a fight. Parson led a much-needed drive and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown run. Curran’s kick made it 28-14 with less than four minutes remaining.
An on-side kick by the Hawks was unsuccessful, and the Broncos held on to the 28-14 win.
“We gotta tighten up some of the mistakes and get a little more disciplined,” Ierulli said.
Savion completed seven of 13 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos totaled 178 yards on the ground and racked up 16 first downs.
Palm Beach Central travels to Santaluces on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Seminole Ridge begins district play and travels to Palm Beach Gardens on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Palm Beach Central receiver Larry Dunnon catches a short touchdown pass from quarterback Savion Harris.