BY GENE NARDI
On Saturday, Aug. 29, the Seminole Ridge High School football team opened its regular season hosting Pahokee High School and fell short 25-14 to the Blue Devils.
The game was originally to be played on Friday at Pahokee, but bad weather in Belle Glade forced a lightning delay that eventually led to the game being postponed and rescheduled for Saturday at Seminole Ridge’s Callery Judge Stadium.
The Hawks got off to a slow start with a couple of miscues, allowing Pahokee to score on its first two possessions and jump out to an early 12-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Seminole Ridge was permitted only one possession nearly the entire first quarter. The Hawks only took seven plays from center on offense until the second quarter. Pahokee continued to roll going into the second quarter, with a 79-yard touchdown run off left tackle, taking an 18-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Seminole Ridge went back to what the team does best — run the ball straight at you. The Hawks managed to chew up nearly six minutes off the clock, and capped an 80-yard drive with a Chase Johnston 1-yard touchdown run. Jared Tolbert’s kick helped close the gap to 18-7.
“We just went back to what we do best, to get that momentum,” Seminole Ridge coach Scott Barnwell said.
The Hawks needed a key defensive stop to slow down the Blue Devils, and got just that. Forcing a fourth-and-five situation, Pahokee elected to convert, but a feisty Seminole Ridge defense denied the first down, and the Hawks were able to close out the first half with some momentum.
Seminole Ridge carried that energy into the second half, rallying on its first possession. On a crucial fourth-and-three decision, the Hawks put the ball in Johnston’s hands again, and this time he raced off for a 17-yard gain to keep the drive alive before being dragged down out of bounds. The gain put the Hawks at the Pahokee 33-yard line. Hawk running back Justin Allie took it in from 5 yards out for the score.
Tolbert’s kick put the Hawks within four points at 18-14. They also managed to shave eight minutes off the third-quarter clock, and looked to the defense for another important stop. Johnston came up big again, this time for the defense, sacking the Pahokee quarterback for a loss, forcing a fourth-and-15 punt position. The Blue Devils defense made a stand in midfield, forcing the Hawks to punt in wet conditions, as the rain fell in sheets.
On Pahokee’s next drive, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, the Blue Devils deflated any chance of a Hawk comeback with a 60-yard touchdown run down the far sideline. The touchdown gave Pahokee the 25-14 win, as time ran out for the Hawks.
“We only got out this week for a short time in four days this week, due to the weather,” Barnwell said. “If you can’t get out and practice, it’s tough to get ready, but we’ll rebound from this.”
Seminole Ridge is 0-1 and will host Miami-Jesuit on Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Seminole Ridge receiver Ty Smith tries to elude a Pahokee corner back after a reception.