Palm Beach Gardens 35, Park Vista 21: Gators end Cobras' perfection
Friday, November 18, 2011
by Matt Porter
Allen Eyestone / Palm Beach Post
The public address announcer had just shared the news that Seminole Ridge was the winner of the area's other Class 8A regional quarterfinal.
Park Vista's players could sense a comeback.
But on a rainy, windy night, a lost fumble did them in. Minutes later, Gardens senior Roshard Burney raced 40 yards and slid into the end zone for an insurance touchdown in the Gators' 35-21 victory.
"I was nervous. I thought they were going to come back, but we prevailed," Burney said.
Down 28-0 to Palm Beach Gardens to start the fourth quarter, the Cobras scored 21 points. When quarterback Qwad Martin, playing on special teams, fell on their second recovered onside kick of the quarter with 3:55 left in the game, Park Vista's players believed they just might drive 51 yards, get the tying score and keep their playoff drive - and perfect season - alive.
But the fumble dashed their hopes.
"I knew we had the heart to stop them," Gardens senior running back Alex Clark said.
In next week's regional semifinals, Palm Beach Gardens (8-2) will travel to Seminole Ridge, which beat the Gators 28-27 on Oct. 21. Park Vista ends its season at 9-1.
As expected for two teams who played to a rain-shortened tie Oct. 28, this was a showdown - just not at the start. Park Vista didn't gain a first down until 6:55 remained in the second quarter. By then, Gardens sophomore J.P. Caruso already had thrown three touchdown passes.
It was the Gators' two-headed rushing attack that did the most damage. Burney put up 172 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Clark, who had been nursing an ankle sprain in the final weeks of the regular season, gained 128 yards on 18 carries.
Caruso finished 5-of-7 passing for 101 yards, and completed his only attempt in the second half.
Meanwhile, Martin started just 2-of-12 passing. However, he completed 10 of his final 20, despite sustaining a neck injury after he was hauled down by his facemask late in the second quarter. Martin found Nelyja Floyd and Adrian Cerrato for fourth-quarter touchdowns, and ran in a 1-yard sneak before falling on the onside kick.
"I'm totally proud of our kids," Park Vista coach Brian Dodds said. "Let me tell you, Gardens is a heck of a football team. They've got a legitimate shot to make a run."