BY GENE NARDI
The three-time District 10-8A champion Palm Beach Central High School football squad hosted Palm Beach Gardens High School on Friday, Nov. 14 in the Class 8A regional quarterfinal game and fell to the Gators 24-20.
It had been just one week since the Broncos rallied to defeat the Gators 30-28 in the regular-season finale. The loss ended Palm Beach Central’s winning streak at seven and eliminated them from further post-season play.
It was Kemar Downer who received the nod to start at quarterback for the Broncos. Palm Beach Central (7-4) led most of the contest, and held on to a 13-9 halftime lead.
Downer connected first, with receiver Adarius Dent on a 21-yard touchdown pass, to draw first blood and cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. The Gators did respond with a field goal to cut the Bronco lead to 6-3, but Downer connected with tight end Luis Peguero on a 12-yard score to extend the Bronco lead to 13-3.
Palm Beach Gardens (6-5) again responded with a score to close the first half down 13-9. A stingy Bronco defense kept the Gator offense off balance.
The Broncos continued to maintain the lead in the second half. Downer found Dent again, this time on a 47-yard touchdown pass capitalizing on a Gator fumble. Nick Petrone’s kick extended the Bronco lead to 20-9. It was the last time Palm Beach Central would find the end zone.
The Gators patiently chipped away at the Bronco lead with a pair of field goals to close the gap to 20-15. A fatal miscue on the Bronco special teams turned the tide. A high snap over the Palm Beach Central punter’s head into the end zone awarded the Gators a safety to come within three at 20-17.
Palm Beach Gardens used a ground attack to consume 60 yards in 14 plays that also inhaled the final minutes on the game clock, and running back Tommy Monday drove in the winning score to make it 24-20.
Downer completed seven of 14 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Palm Beach Gardens advances to face host Wellington in the Class 8A regional semifinal game Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
ABOVE: Bronco cornerback Carrington Henderson tries to intercept a pass.