BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School football team hosted district foe Seminole Ridge High School on Friday, Oct. 14 in a must-win game for both teams, and defeated the Hawks 41-27. The win was icing on the cake for the Broncos on senior night.
Palm Beach Central (2-5, 1-1 in the district) jumped out to a 14-0 lead only four minutes into the game. The first score was a 1-yard run by Lakevious Simmons, and the second was a 23-yard run from workhorse running back Anthony Wynds.
The Hawks (3-3, 1-1 in district) finally achieved some momentum and put together an 80-yard drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown run by running back Jeremiah Brown to cut the Bronco lead to 14-6.
The Hawks battled back again on offense, but settled on a 33-yard field goal by Daniel Freire to cut the deficit to 14-9. Palm Beach Central appeared to struggle offensively after a strong start, but collected momentum when Bronco quarterback Nick Atkins connected with receiver Tyler Freeman for an 86-yard touchdown pass to lift the Broncos to a 21-9 edge. The touchdown came on the very last play of the first half.
“I challenged them and told them to put some points on the board,” Bronco coach Tino Ierulli said. “It wasn’t to snub the other team, it was to try and build momentum for our team.”
The Bronco touchdown on the final play of the first half fueled the fire for the Hawks. Running back Kristian Gonzalez capped the opening drive of the second half with a 5-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 21-16. The Broncos answered right back; Atkins found Freeman almost on a duplicate play from the first half. The two linked up for an 85-yard touchdown pass to extend Palm Beach Central’s lead to 28-16. Atkins hit Freeman on a short out pattern; Freeman broke two tackles and raced down the near sideline for the score.
The Hawks sustained a solid drive, moving the chains to midfield, when a catastrophic mishap occurred. Bronco linebacker Geremy Cineus recovered a Seminole Ridge fumble; he returned 10 yards into Hawks territory. Wynds delivered a devastating blow to the Hawks when he scampered 9 yards into the end zone to lift the Broncos to 35-16 in the fourth quarter.
Seminole Ridge attempted to convert on fourth down from its own 25-yard line with the clock running, but failed to move the chains. Wynds was relentless when he ran it in up the middle for another score from 16 yards out. That touchdown made the Bronco lead 41-19.
Hawks quarterback Michael Adeyanju found receiver Hunter Jones on a 39-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion brought the score to 41-27, but it was not enough to lift the Hawks with under a minute to play. The Broncos ran out the clock to take the 41-27 senior night victory.
“Seminole Ridge is a big rivalry for us,” Ierulli said. “We knew if we lost this game, we had no shot at the playoffs, and we proved ourselves.”
For the Broncos, Wynds had 111 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns. Freeman had four catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Atkins completed five of seven passes for 202 yards and two scores. Cineus had 14 tackles and one fumble recovery.
For Seminole Ridge, Gonzalez had 13 rushes for 67 yards and one touchdown. Brown had five receptions for 78 yards and one score. Adeyanju completed 12 of 23 passes for 191 yards and one score.
Seminole Ridge traveled to Glades Central High School on Thursday, but results were not available by press time. Palm Beach Central continues district play Friday on the road at Jupiter High School at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Palm Beach Central running back Anthony Wynds powers his way to one of his three touchdowns.