The Royal Palm Beach High School football team hosted Port St. Lucie on Friday, Sept. 20 and bested the Jaguars 22-14 in a game that was a nail-biter to the closing minute.
The Wildcats improved to 3-1 on the season, which is evidence of the players buying into the new leadership under head coach Davis Lowery. “Hats off to Port St. Lucie,” Lowery said. “They came back in the second half and played hard, and played with class. I want our kids to do the same. I’m proud of this team at 3-1.”
The Wildcats punched their timecard and went to work early. On their first possession of the game, quarterback Peyton Mainolfi found receiver Dishon Francis down the near sideline for a 66-yard touchdown to log the game’s first score, grabbing a 7-0 lead. Royal Palm Beach’s defense stopped the Port St. Lucie offense. The Wildcats had an opportunity to extend the lead, but a 43-yard Dominick Grosso field goal attempt was blocked.
Mainolfi continued to be deadly to the Jaguar defensive secondary, next linking up with Ketron Hadley for a 48-yard touchdown to extend the Wildcat lead to 13-0. As the game entered the second quarter, the Jaguars pushed into the Royal Palm Beach turf but were unable to capitalize. The Port St. Lucie offense had connection issues from the center to the quarterback through the night, which proved to be a factor, losing yardage on bad snaps.
The Jaguar defense intercepted a Royal Palm Beach pass that helped them to close the margin with a 24-yard touchdown pass to make the score 13-7 less than a minute before the end of the first half. In the time remaining, Mainolfi led the Wildcat offense 47 yards, capping the drive on a one-yard quarterback keeper to make the Royal Palm Beach lead 19-7 before the half concluded.
Port St. Lucie entered the second half on offense first, and utilized the possession to air it out, scoring on a 46-yard pass play to close the gap to 19-14 with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Grosso got another chance to extend the Wildcat lead when the offense placed him in a prime spot to launch a 27-yard field goal to put Royal Palm Beach up 22-14 with 7:17 remaining in the game.
The Jaguars appeared to be putting together a solid drive, as they entered Royal Palm Beach real estate, but penalties pushed them back to mid-field. The Wildcat defensive secondary was instrumental in breaking up several pass plays to secure the 22-14 score to the final whistle.
Mainolfi had one of his best games to date, passing for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s really maturing as a quarterback,” Lowery explained. “He hit eight different receivers last week, and his timing is getting better and better. If we can keep him protected, we can be very dangerous.”
Royal Palm Beach improved to 3-1 on the season, the team’s best start in three years. They now have Seminole Ridge in their crosshairs, with the “Best of the West” trophy on the line. The Hawks currently hold the trophy, and Royal Palm Beach would like it back. The two face-off Friday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Seminole Ridge High School’s Callery-Judge Stadium.