Palm Beach Gardens 54, Jupiter 14: Gators rush for 305 yards against Warriors
Friday, September 23, 2011
by Matt Porter
Jupiter coach Charlie Persson knows a good team when he sees one.
"That's the best (Palm Beach Gardens) team I've seen since their (2005) state title team," Persson said. "They might be better than Dwyer."
While it's too early to weigh them against past champions, these Gators are definitely an area heavyweight. They run the ball better than any team in the area, which was clear after a never-in-doubt 54-14 win over rival Jupiter on Friday night.
Gardens (3-1) racked up 305 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, keeping the chain gang busy on long drives and putting the hammer down after turnovers by Jupiter (1-3).
"It's the line," senior running back Roshard Burney said. "They just block, block, block."
Gators linemen deserve credit. On running plays, they sprang from their stances and bullied Jupiter defenders. But Burney and senior Alex Clark stole the show, opening the game by carrying six times each on a 14-play, 4:56 drive that set the game's tone.
All but one play was on the ground. Gardens kept rolling, opening to a 28-6 halftime lead and turning on a running clock in the second half.
In all, Burney carried 21 times for 116 yards and three touchdowns, the third coming after a drive in which he stiff-armed Jupiter's Ray Tutella midway through a 13-yard gain, inciting some of the 150 or so visiting fans to chant, "Burney, Burney."
Clark carried 11 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, a brilliant 42-yarder. With less than 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Clark took a direct snap, paused a moment as the hole opened and was gone.
"The creases that they make, that's it. That's all me and Roshard need," Clark said.
It wasn't just the running game. Gardens' defensive line dominated, sacking Warriors quarterback Tyler Cameron seven times, forcing two fumbles and causing him to throw an interception. Cameron completed 11 of 23 passes for 168 yards. Jupiter's offense came from Cameron's touchdown passes to Charlie Giles and Collier Logan (seven catches, 84 yards).
With Jupiter trying desperately to stop the run, Gardens quarterback J.P. Caruso was 7-of-10 for 126 yards and a touchdown pass - a 40-yarder to Kyle Cameron that made it 35-6.
In the second half, the Gators converted turnovers into touchdowns. Senior Peter Sylvain returned a blocked punt 10 yards for a score. With about three minutes left in the game, Gators senior Noah Harris intercepted Cameron, and junior Jermaine Carn ran in an 11-yard TD.
Gardens coach Chris Davis said it feels good to start the season 3-1, but "more importantly, we're 1-0 in our stinking district for the first time in a long time. That's a great feeling."
With a running game like this, the best times appear to be yet to come.