BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School football squad traveled to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Nov. 13 to take on state powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A regional quarterfinals and were shut out by the host Raiders 29-0.
The loss marks the second year in a row that the Wildcats fell to Aquinas. Last year, the Wildcats entered the contest as district champions, meeting the Raiders in the regional finals.
The Raiders defense forced a three-and-out punt from the Wildcats, giving Aquinas field position on the Royal Palm Beach 40-yard line. The Raiders orchestrated an early drive that it appeared would lead to a score, until Royal Palm Beach corner back Adarius Dent spoiled the opportunity, picking off a Raider pass at the 6-yard line, returning out to the 35-yard line.
Wildcat quarterback Josh Carr led his offense to midfield against a tough Raider defense, but an interception halted a chance to take an early lead. Aquinas finally broke loose, with a 38-yard touchdown on the team’s first play from scrimmage, and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
From there, the Wildcats’ ensuing drive led them to the Raiders’ 30-yard line, giving Royal Palm Beach an opportunity to equalize, but the Wildcats failed to convert on a fourth-and-10, turning over the ball on downs.
The Raiders scored their second touchdown going into the start of the second quarter and took a 14-0 lead. Aquinas would score once more before halftime and took a 22-0 lead. Royal Palm Beach’s offense showed signs of life, moving the ball, but could not maintain the consistency needed to wear down the Raiders’ defense.
The Wildcat defense kept the Raider offense out of the end zone through the third quarter, but the Aquinas defense returned the favor, making it difficult for the Royal Palm Beach offense to establish any momentum. Aquinas capped one more scoring drive with a 23-yard touchdown run to take a 29-0 lead.
Although the Wildcats racked up just over 300 yards of offense, they could not convert the yardage into points to close the margin. The loss ended the postseason for the Wildcats, bringing their season record to 5-6.
Carr completed 13 of 20 passes for 165 yards, and compiled 19 first downs for the offense. Dent is credited with an interception.
ABOVE: Wildcat running back Telvis Lawler goes head-to-head with the Aquinas defense while carrying the ball.