- Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Park Vista’s postseason hopes got a big boost Friday night in a 31-14 victory against Palm Beach Gardens at Mullinax Ford Stadium.
Atorian Perry caught a pair of touchdown passes, and John Smith added two rushing scores to lead the Cobras (7-2).
With the win, Park Vista kept its postseason hopes alive. The sixth-ranked Cobras need to earn enough points to secure one of eight postseason qualifying spots from their Class 8A region. Park Vista held the 10th spot entering Friday.
Playoff qualifiers will be announced Sunday morning as part of the FHSAA’s football playoff selection show.
“We don’t know,” said Cobras coach Brian Dodds, whose team has won six in a row, when asked about the playoffs “We’re going to have to find out. I really believe it’s going to be within a point, or maybe even percentage points. Hopefully 7-2 did it.”
Palm Beach Gardens (3-6), which dropped its fifth straight game to close the season, got off to a sloppy start. The Gators fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, and Park Vista recovered inside the Gators’ 25. The Cobras scored two plays later on Smith’s 13-yard run for an early 7-0 lead.
A big play from the Cobras’ special teams set up Park Vista’s next score.
The Cobras blocked a Palm Beach Gardens punt on the Gators’ third offensive series, and the ball rolled out of bounds inside the 3.
However Park Vista couldn’t punch it in from there, falling short on two run attempts and then throwing an incomplete pass. The Cobras settled for a 20-yard field goal from Trae Steele and a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Despite holding the lead, Park Vista struggled on offense for much of the first half, particularly on the ground.
But the Cobras did get their passing game going, with a big boost from Perry. The Alabama-Birmingham commit caught his first pass on Park Vista’s fifth offensive series, and turned it into an 80-yard touchdown.
The score extended Park Vista’s lead to 17-0 with 5:05 left in the half.
But the Gators answered almost immediately. Quarterback Chris Sancilio, who threw for nearly 200 yards in the first half, found Deont’e Cooley down the middle, and the senior wide receiver shed tacklers the rest of the way into the end zone.
The pass play, which covered 70 yards, pulled Palm Beach Gardens within 17-7, and it stayed that way until halftime.
The Cobras opened the second half with a lengthy drive that chewed up nearly six minutes on the clock, and ended on an 11-yard scoring pass from Thomas to James.
The score extended Park Vista’s lead to 24-7 with 6:13 left in third quarter, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
UM commit Gurvan Hall pulled the Gators within 24-14 on a 55-yard reverse, but the Cobras came right back on a 1-yard Smith plunge to go back up by 17 as time expired in the third quarter.