Broncos Shut Out The Hawks To Advance In Playoffs

Palm Beach Central quarterback Nick Atkins looks for an open receiver down field.

Palm Beach Central High School hosted District 9-8A rival Seminole Ridge High School and shut out the Hawks 32-0 on Friday, Nov. 10, to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

The game was initially delayed by rain. While the lightning departed, the rain remained throughout the first quarter to make matters difficult for both teams to perform on the damp field.

The Hawks managed to put together a decent drive, landing them at the Bronco 40-yard line, but a fumble negated the drive, turning possession over to Palm Beach Central. Both teams struggled offensively and did not register a score in the first quarter.

The second quarter opened with both teams moving the ball, but neither could make it beyond midfield. The Broncos (8-2, 4-0) struck first midway through the second quarter when quarterback Nick Atkins hit running back C.J. Stewart on a quick out pass that turned into 72-yard touchdown run. The point-after attempt failed, but the Broncos took a second quarter lead 6-0.

Palm Beach Central added to the lead with less than a minute left to play in the first half. Atkins connected with Fornoris Roberts from 10 yards out. The Broncos had difficulty converting their point-after attempts early on, and took a 12-0 lead into the locker room, but it wasn’t before each defense traded interceptions to close out the half.

The second half seemed it would play out a bit differently. Seminole Ridge stopped the Broncos on the opening possession. The Hawks’ offense found some chemistry and drove to the Palm Beach Central 38-yard line but failed to convert on a fourth down attempt.

With 2:56 left in the third quarter, Atkins linked up with Michael Moreland on a 12-yard touchdown pass in the end zone to put the Broncos up 18-0.

The Hawks’ defense played tough, holding a clicking Bronco offense to a punt situation, but Seminole Ridge mishandled the punt, giving the Broncos possession on the Hawk 22-yard line. Three plays later, Atkins ran a keeper up the middle from 6 yards out to lift the Broncos to a 24-0 advantage.

With the Hawks desperate to make something happen, they went to the air, but the Bronco defense did not falter. Jesus Santiago picked off the Hawks, giving Palm Beach Central prime field position to put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter. Atkins hooked up with tight end Tyler Baker for the game’s final score from 10 yards out to give the Broncos a 32-0 advantage.

The Broncos have shut out their last four opponents and given up only three points in the last five games.

“I can’t be more proud about these kids,” Bronco head coach Tino Ierulli said. “If giving up three points in the last five games doesn’t make a statement, then we’re carrying the burden on our back for some reason. We won the district my first year, then we go 2-8 and 3-7, and these kids never stopped buying in. That’s what happens to a program when they love and care about each other and believe in each other.”

Atkins completed 12 of 21 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for a score. Stewart rushed 17 times for 102 yards and is credited with one touchdown reception. K.J. Bowles and Santiago each had an interception. Tre Jackson and Aaron Pierre each had a fumble recovery, and Jeremiah Anderson had one forced fumble.

The Broncos will host Broward County’s Western High School in the second round of the playoffs Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.