No. 10 Seminole Ridge 31, No. 4 Palm Beach Gardens 21: Silas Spearman's big plays lift Hawks
Friday, October 19, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Seminole Ridge's Silas Spearman races past Palm Beach Gardens' defense for a long gain during the Hawks' 31-21 victory Friday night. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Seminole Ridge spent the first official week of the 2012 high school football season flooded. There was no school and no football.
That slow start paralyzed a Ridge team with state playoff aspirations, setting the Hawks a week behind many of their counterparts in Palm Beach County. They lost their first two games, and took another three weeks or so to look like the team everyone thought they'd be.
Irony wore no disguise Friday night as Seminole Ridge bullied its way a rain-drenched, lightning-delayed 31-21 win over bitter District 9-8A rival Palm Beach Gardens. The victory, a dramatic development in the statewide landscape in Class 8A, erased almost all the bad feelings that came from the slow start.
"The first half, we made no mistakes," Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickmann said. "I'm proud of the way we've come back as a team, but we're still not there."
In the game's opening 24 minutes, 10th-ranked Ridge (4-2) ran out to a 17-6 lead, thanks to senior running back Silas Spearman's breakaway speed. The shifty back broke his fourth carry of the game 34 yards for a touchdown after bouncing off several would-be tacklers.
His 60-yard run down the right side of the field set up Elie Turene's 3-yard scoring run. But it was his kick-returning ability that made the most difference.
At the start of the third quarter, Spearman weaved his way 98 yards for a score on the opening kickoff. That touchdown made it 24-6, and it ended up being the game-winner.
After Ridge fullback E.J. Elien scored on a 49-yard run to expand Ridge's lead to 31-6, fourth-ranked Gardens (5-2) staged a furious comeback.
Gardens quarterback J.P. Caruso hit senior receiver Frank Brown, a blazing-fast Division I prospect, on a short hitch pass to the right flank. Brown took a step forward, shimmied and lost every Ridge defender on the field, running 65 yards for a touchdown.
After recovering a fumble off the ensuing squib kickoff, Caruso eventually pushed his way in for a 1-yard score, cutting Ridge's lead to 31-21.
From that point on, Ridge sweat out the win.
"They just manhandled us up front (early in the game)," Gardens coach Rob Freeman said. "It just got a little bit out of hand there."
Spearman (115 yards) combined with Elien (123) and Turene (71) to produce a potent rushing attack for Ridge, which now owns the inside track to the district title. Isaac Esson had two interceptions, one that gave Ridge momentum early and another that all but sealed the win for the Hawks, who held the area's leading big-schools rusher, Jermaine Carn, to 82 yards, a quiet night by his standards.
"We told the team before, 'If you ever decide you want to play Hawk football for four quarters, good things can happen,' " Dickmann said. "We'll take the victory, but there's still a long way toward improvement to go."