BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School football squad hosted Seminole Ridge High School on Friday, Sept. 25 for the annual Rivals Cup. The Wildcats held on to defeat the Hawks 24-14.
The win marks the third-straight year that the Wildcats have retained the cup. The game was tied 7-7 at the half. Royal Palm Beach (2-3) relied on a balanced attack to rally in the second half.
Quarterback Josh Carr set a new school record with a 97-yard touchdown strike to receiver Lamar Phillips in the first half to answer the Hawks’ touchdown on the opening possession. Seminole Ridge chewed up yard after yard on the ground with runs by Joseph Schergen and Sean Edwards. Edwards broke the ice with an 18-yard rush for the end zone to give the Hawks a brief 7-0 lead after Daniel Freire’s kick sailed through the uprights.
It was on the next possession that Carr struck to Phillips for the equalizer on the 97-yard score to tie it up. The two teams went head-to-head battling for momentum until the half came to a close.
The Hawks wasted little time getting things rolling in the second half. With just three minutes having ticked off the game clock, running back Schergen trekked into a 48-yard touchdown run. Schergen broke through off the left tackle, then shook off two defenders and darted off to the goal line for the touchdown. Freire’s kick gave Seminole Ridge a 14-7 lead minutes into the second half.
The Hawk score did nothing to the Wildcats’ morale, other than motivate them. Carr connected with Da’Von Brown on a 33-yard grab. Carr threw a high pass, forcing Brown to make an acrobatic catch in the air. The reception set up Brown’s 5-yard touchdown run to the outside to tie the game at 14.
Seminole Ridge continued to move the ball with confidence, but fell victim to four fumbles in the second half. The Hawks drove to the Royal Palm Beach red zone twice, only to cough up possession to the Wildcats.
“We had one touchdown called back in the first half,” Hawks coach Scott Barnwell noted. “We moved the ball but we had five fumbles, and you can’t win football like that.”
Carr found Brown again in the fourth quarter, this time on a 65-yard touchdown pass. Brown ran a slant, and Carr timed the pass perfectly as Brown raced off to the end zone. Roland Tyson’s kick gave the Wildcats a 21-14 lead.
Seminole Ridge threatened to tie as they put a solid drive together, but a fumble recovered by Royal Palm Beach linebacker Davonte Gillins put a stop to the Hawk rally.
Telvis Lawler went to work for the Wildcats. The running back scampered off for a 45-yard gain that set up a 37-yard Tyson field goal to extend the Wildcats lead to 24-14.
The addition on the scoreboard for the Wildcats made it difficult for the Hawks to assemble a late rally with only two minutes remaining. Royal Palm Beach held on for the win and retains the Rivals Cup for another year.
“We did a better job in the second half of not self-inflicting any wounds,” Wildcats coach Willie Bueno said. “Our defense did a great job keeping us in it. I’m proud of our team.”
Royal Palm Beach is 2-3 on the season and will host Palm Beach Lakes High School on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. for homecoming. Seminole Ridge is 1-3 and will host Wellington High School in a key district game, also on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: The Wildcats celebrate their Rivals Cup win.