Royal Palm Beach 15, Palm Beach Central 6: Defense lifts Wildcats
Friday, September 21, 2012
by Matt Porter
Senior cornerback De'Andre Simmons made a game-saving play on a rainy, muddy evening, preserving Royal Palm Beach's 15-6 win over Palm Beach Central on Friday night.
Down nine points and needing a score with less than five minutes left, dynamic Palm Beach Central senior Lloyd Howard took a swing pass and broke away from the defense for 57 yards. Simmons caught him and knocked out the ball at the 13, recovering the fumble with 4:15 left in the game.
"I thought he was going to score, to be honest," Simmons said. "I just kept trying to get him."
"Phenomenal play, wasn't it?" Royal Palm Beach coach Willie Bueno said. "He's a big-time player. We always talk about finishing. You never know."
Junior Jimmy Moreland (six carries, 85 yards, two touchdowns) scored the Wildcats' touchdowns. He also intercepted Palm Beach Central senior quarterback Kyle Shafer with 1:20 remaining to seal the win.
On a night they lost five fumbles and recovered all of them, Royal Palm (1-1) seemed to tempt fate often. With 3:27 left in the first quarter, the Wildcats faked a punt on fourth-and-9 at their own 27.
Senior Jake Wehrle took the snap and rushed ahead 23 yards. On the next play, Moreland took another direct snap and rumbled 50 yards for a touchdown, then added a two-point rush.
Midway through the third, Moreland took a direct snap on fourth and 4 at Central's 34 and got 33 yards. He punched in a 1-yard touchdown on the next play, at 7:03 of the quarter.
"Our defense was playing well. I don't think anyone was going to throw the ball tonight," Bueno said. "We figured we could stop the run, so we'd take some chances."
Palm Beach Central (1-2) wasn't as lucky.
The Broncos lost two fumbles and recovered one. In the fourth, Central senior Tommy McDonald's 3-yard plunge cut the lead to 15-6. But a bad snap led to a missed extra point, leaving a two-score deficit.
"They had to play in the same conditions we did," Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said.
Harris was disappointed with the loss but said he likes his team's improvements on defense (203 rushing yards, 30 passing) and in the passing game. Senior Kyle Shafer completed 6 of 11 passes for 136 yards
"I feel better about our team now than I did two weeks ago," Harris said. "Gardens and Royal Palm were tough teams, and we were one play away from both."
Players slipped all over the turf, stunting several possible long gains. Early in the third quarter, Royal Palm senior JoJo Williams caught a 16-yard pass and went down face-first in a puddle of mud.
Players laughed as a coach helped him clean out his helmet.