BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School football squad hosted Park Vista High School in the regular-season opener Friday, Aug. 28, and fell short against the visiting Cobras 16-0.
The game remained a nail-biter from start to finish in front of a packed Palm Beach Central home crowd. The Park Vista defense would bend often but not break, as the Broncos surrendered several opportunities to punch into the end zone throughout the night.
Park Vista scored with a 30-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard field goal going into the second quarter, giving the Cobras a 9-0 lead ending the first half.
The second half started with the Broncos driving into Park Vista territory often, but they failed to convert to points. Although the Broncos managed to put together 134 yards on the ground and nearly 100 yards in the air, four interceptions and a fumble kept the team out of the end zone.
Midway through the third quarter, free safety Chris Fitzpatrick lept up to grab a Park Vista pass and came down with a big interception to give the Broncos good field position after a 14-yard return.
The turnover appeared to give Palm Beach Central the boost it needed, as the Broncos drove into the Park Vista red zone, but again came up short.
The Bronco defense continued to carry the weight of the attempted rally, forcing the Cobras to punt, giving Palm Beach Central yet another opportunity to close the gap with the game still at 9-0.
Receiver Jose Calvo came in and answered for the Broncos when he reeled in a deep pass from quarterback Jordan Travis on a fourth-and-six play to the Park Vista 15-yard line.
The rally was short-lived. The Cobras denied the Broncos by intercepting a pass in the end zone. Park Vista was able to sustain a drive and chipped away at the clock. Cobra quarterback John Smith connected with Camron Wickham for a 31-yard touchdown pass on a crucial fourth-down play to extend the Park Vista lead to 16-0.
With just three minutes left, the Broncos again began to drive, getting as close as the Cobras’ 31-yard line, but another interception proved costly for the Broncos, giving Park Vista the opportunity to seal the 16-0 win with another sustained drive, eating up the final minutes.
Palm Beach Central is 0-1 on the season and will travel to play Vero Beach High School on Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Palm Beach Central receiver Jose Calvo advances the ball after a big catch in the fourth quarter.