No. 4 Palm Beach Gardens 33, Boca Raton 13: Jermaine Carn powers Gators
Friday, October 12, 2012
by Matt Porter
Trying to protect a one-score lead with nine minutes left, Palm Beach Gardens started a drive at its own 16-yard line.
Every fan in the stands knew what was coming.
Boca Raton knew. Most importantly, Gardens senior Jermaine Carn knew, and he was up to the task.
The Gators took to the ground, and Carn, their workhorse running back, led fourth-ranked Gardens 84 yards - with help from a 5-yard Boca penalty and 11-yard quarterback sneak from junior J.P. Caruso - and dove into the end zone from 1 yard out with 5:17 remaining.
Carn had 147 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and Gardens (5-1) went on to beat Boca 33-13 in a non-district Class 8A matchup.
"It's always comforting when they know you're going to run, you know you're going to run and you can still run the ball," Gardens coach Rob Freeman said.
While the Gators opened up a 20-7 halftime lead by capitalizing on two turnovers by Boca (2-4), they gave up a career-high 198 rushing yards and a touchdown to junior running back Cecil Johnson, who ran like a cyclone.
"Nobody's really moved the ball on us this year," Freeman said. "That was concerning. We're going to have to be better to beat Seminole Ridge next week."
Next Friday, Gardens hosts Ridge in a District 9-8A game, and on Thursday, Boca travels to No. 8 Park Vista for a 10-8A clash. Both are critical for each in their four-team district; Gardens and Ridge are 1-0, while Boca and Vista are 0-1.
Early in the second quarter, Caruso (6-of-13, 143 yards, TD, INT) hit senior receiver Frank Brown with a bullet over the middle that Brown turned into a 43-yard touchdown.
Minutes later, Gardens' Malcolm Depas returned a Boca fumble to the 38. Sophomore scatback Tommy Monday carried for 6, 13 and a 19-yard touchdown.
Boca senior Tard McCoy threw an interception to Gardens senior safety Terrance St. Hillaire, which was quickly converted into a 2-yard Carn touchdown plunge with 2:15 left in the half.
"Without those first-half mistakes, I really, really think it could have been a good game in the second half," Boca coach Lewis Burnham said. "Our guys made it competitive nonetheless."
On the first play after McCoy recovered a fumble, Johnson scored from 8 yards out with 5:22 left in the third.
In its second game without injured quarterback Kevin Anderson, Boca completed 4 of 14 passes with two picks. But McCoy hit Bryant for a touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the 15 with 9:32 remaining, pulling within a touchdown and setting up Gardens' pounding drive.
After Carn's plunge, St. Hillaire returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown and the game's final points.
"I hate the scoreboard, but we played tough," Burnham said.