No. 7 Palm Beach Gardens 31, Wellington 15: Gators secure playoff berth
Friday, November 02, 2012
by Zach Buckley
Palm Beach Gardens entered Wolverine Stadium on Friday night needing a win to secure a District 9-8A runner-up finish and the playoff spot that comes with it.
The Gators (6-2, 2-1) left with a 31-15 win over Wellington (3-5, 0-3) and a postseason matchup with Palm Beach Central on Nov. 16 added to their schedule.
Senior running back Jermaine Carn paced Gardens' offense with 126 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and sophomore Tommy Monday added 81 yards and two TDs on 12 attempts for the No. 7 Gators.
After the teams traded punts to open the game, Carn capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive with a 10-yard rushing touchdown with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
On the Gators' fourth possession, Monday met a host of Wolverines defenders at the Wellington 3-yard line but, with some help from his linemen, muscled his way into the end zone. A 39-yard field goal from Steven Olson as time expired in the second quarter gave Palm Beach Gardens a 17-0 halftime advantage.
The Gators' defense held the Wolverines to 62 total yards on five first-half possessions, but Wellington senior running back Horace Odams found a seam along the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the second half.
Gardens responded with just its second three-and-out of the game, giving Wellington a chance to make it a one-score deficit.
But Gators senior linebacker Dakwon De Polo saved some of his biggest plays for when his team needed them most. He tackled Wellington running back Dannick Duffus for a loss on the second play of the Wolverines' drive, and his third-down sack of quarterback Cole Smallridge forced Wellington to punt.
"(De Polo's) a really good player," Gardens coach Rob Freeman said. "He's played in about half our games due to injury, but he's one of the dominant players in the area when he's playing."
Monday capped off a five-play, 48-yard drive on the Gators' ensuing possession with a 5-yard touchdown run to stretch their lead to 24-7.
Senior fullback Noah Harris' 1-yard touchdown run with 4:07 left in the game gave Freeman a win that he wasn't thrilled about -- but a win nonetheless.
"I've done this long enough to know that you've got to be happy with the victories because sometimes they're hard to come by," Freeman said.