Royal Palm Beach 17, West Boca Raton 7: McCullough leads Wildcats past Bulls
Thursday, October 13, 2011
by Matt Porter
Royal Palm Beach plays the toughest squads in a top-heavy District 13-7A - Lake Worth, Atlantic, Dwyer - consecutively in the next three weeks.
To have a shot at the playoffs, the Wildcats needed to be playing at their best coming into this week.
They are, and they have a shot.
Faced with a hard-hitting district team in West Boca Raton, the Wildcats (5-1, 3-0 District 13-7A) countered with senior Tremane McCullough - 37 carries and 195 yards of him, to be precise - and got key defensive stops in a 17-7 road district victory Thursday night.
"We told him he had to pump it in there, and he did," Royal Palm Beach coach Willie Bueno said. "He got some tough yards. This was a good win for us. A character win."
McCullough, at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, was a handful for West Boca. Or more accurately, a handful of air.
The Bulls (1-6, 1-3), especially Virginia Tech commit Jawand Blue, got him a few times but didn't get him enough.
"I felt every hit they gave me," McCullough said. "But man, I can take it. I live for it."
He ran in a 48-yard touchdown on the game's first series, using two cuts to cover the distance.
After the Bulls forced a three-and-out, quarterback Zach Miner (6-of-14, 60 yards) took it himself on four red-zone plays, including a 2-yard sneak that tied it.
Royal Palm went ahead 14-7 by showing it can pass under pressure. Junior quarterback Ant McGrew (7-of-11, 75 yards, TD) sneaked for 3 yards on fourth-and-3 from the Bulls' 37, then found reliable receiver Jo-Jo Williams for 9 yards on third-and-7 from the 16, then hit him again for 6 yards and a touchdown on third-and-goal. Williams, a junior, finished with six catches for 60 yards.
Meanwhile, Royal Palm's Jimmy Moreland flew around on defense. Moreland, a 142-pound sophomore, blocked a 37-yard field goal at the end of the first half, and dove in front of a 42-yard try with 11:05 left in the game, keeping the Wildcats ahead 14-7 both times.
Moreland saved the lead a third time by falling on a lost fumble after teammate Teddy Matthews, a senior defensive end, sacked Bulls quarterback Zach Miner on first-and-10 from the Wildcats' 12 with 3:06 remaining. Matthews had two sacks, and junior Jake Wehrle added one.
With 6:06 left, Royal Palm senior Austin Lombardi booted a 22-yard field goal to sew it up.
For West Boca Raton, another district loss effectively ended its playoff hopes and the Bulls will try to play spoiler the rest of the way.
"When you play a tough team like that, you have to capitalize on that," said coach Willie Dodaro, whose team put up 169 yards of total offense, 101 of it on junior Eugene Bethea's 14 carries. "We were in the red zone a couple times, and came away with nothing. Nothing."