It wasn’t quite the Muck Bowl Friday night, but it certainly felt like it for Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Central in their Class 8A regional quarterfinal.
The Hawks and Broncos battled for 48 minutes in the mud thanks to a pre-game downpour. When time expired, Palm Beach Central claimed a 32-0 win and a berth in Friday’s regional semifinals.
Quarterback Nick Atkins accounted for five touchdowns, and No. 2 seed Palm Beach Central (8-2) forced four turnovers in the win, which was the Broncos’ second this season over No. 7 Seminole Ridge (8-3).
“I can’t be more proud of these young men right here,” Palm Beach Central coach Tino Ierulli said. “They bought in from last year. My first year we won the district championship, went 5-0 in the district, and lose in the first round in a dogfight. Then we went 2-8 and 3-7, and these kids never stopped buying in.”
Both teams kept to the ground early, with Seminole Ridge’s opening drive featuring seven consecutive rushing plays. That drive ended with a Hawks fumble at the Palm Beach Central 47.
The Broncos took over, and ran the ball on their first three plays before punting the ball away.
Neither team attempted to pass until 5:10 remained in the first quarter. The Hawks’ third-down pass attempt fell incomplete, but the drive was kept alive on a personal foul called on Palm Beach Central.
The drive — and quarter — ultimately ended on a sack by the Broncos’ Akeem Dent near midfield.
Palm Beach Central took over following a punt and quickly moved inside Seminole Ridge territory, with much of that yardage coming on Hawks penalties.
But a bobbled snap on third down pushed the Broncos back, and they were forced to punt.
Palm Beach Central had much better luck on its next drive, which covered 60 yards on a single play.
Atkins dropped back on a first-down play and tossed a short pass near the sideline to CJ Stewart, who ran nearly untouched into the end zone for the game’s first score. The kick failed, leaving the Broncos with a 6-0 lead with 4:34 left in the second quarter.
Palm Beach Central came right back to add to its lead, helped in large part by its special teams.
The Broncos stopped Seminole Ridge short on a fake punt attempt, and took over near midfield. Atkins took the Broncos the rest of the way, tossing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Robinson for a 12-0 lead with 31 seconds left until halftime.
The half closed with back-to-back interceptions, including one by Seminole Ridge in the end zone.
The Broncos’ defense continued to dominate early in the second half, stopping the Hawks short on a fourth-down attempt on their opening drive, and then pushing them backwards on their next possession.
In between, Atkins tossed his third touchdown pass, this one an 11-yarder to Mike Moreland for an 18-0 Broncos lead late in the third quarter.
Atkins closed the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard scoring run, followed by a 20-yard TD pass to Tyler Baker.