Experience is the best teacher and P.J. Hurst is fast becoming one of its finest students.
The Palisades High quarterback is getting better each week and he took another positive step Friday night at Stadium by the Sea, where he completed 10 of 13 passes for 253 yards, three touchdowns and one interception to lead the Dolphins to a 28-0 triumph in the ninth annual Charter Bowl against Granada Hills. It was Palisades’ third shutout in their five Charter Bowl victories and gave the Dolphins the edge in the rivalry game that began in 2006.
“We decided we had to go to the air game and my athletes on the outside always make me look good,” said Hurst, who threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end James Mann in the second quarter, a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Herbert Acosta in the third quarter and hooked up with receiver Quincy Cowherd on an 81-yard pass play for the final score midway through the fourth quarter. “Experience is definitely giving me a lot of confidence. The more we get out there — I’m even learning from the picks I’m throwing — they’re mistakes I’m going to make, but I’m learning from them.”
Brad Boorstin paced the ground game with 74 yards in 15 carries and Desmond Box added 46 yards in seven carries.
On defense, Palisades limited the opposition to 153 yards from scrimmage while forcing the Highlanders to punt on seven of their nine possessions. Alec Simpson led the Dolphins with eight tackles (including three for losses), fellow linebacker Mario Lofton had six tackles (two for losses), Dhaamir Lomax had five tackles and a sack and Aaron Butler made a diving interception on Granada Hills’ first drive of the second half. Lomax also scored on a highlight-reel 71-yard punt return to make it 14-0 in the second quarter.
On this night, Acosta was Hurst’s primary target with six receptions for 129 yards. “Herbert and I know each other really well,” said Hurst, a junior who backed up starter Taylor Mensik last season. “I know where he’s going to be almost every time, even when I’m out of the pocket.”
The Dolphins improved to 3-1 heading into next Thursday’s nonleague finale against Harvard-Westlake and Coach Tim Hyde is already preparing for that matchup, although he did take a moment to get his picture taken afterwards with the bronze Charter Bowl trophy, which remains the Dolphins’ property for another year.
“Once we knew they were blitzing every play you saw us just throw at will and we feel we have a heck of a quarterback in P.J. Hurst,” Hyde said. “He’s only going to get better and I really, really love coaching him.”
— Steve Galluzzo
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