Dolphins Beat Brentwood 21-13 to Avenge Last Year’s Loss in Sunset Showdown
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Trailing 7-0 and in danger of falling further behind, the Palisades High varsity football team needed one big play to change the momentum of last Friday night’s Sunset Showdown against Brentwood at Stadium by the Sea.
Linebacker Sy Riley made it, intercepting a pass at the goal line and returning it 19 yards to set up the Dolphins’ first scoring drive of the game and they went on to beat their intersectional rivals 21-13 in a battle that came down to the final seconds like last year’s inaugural meeting in which the Eagles scored twice in the last three and a half minutes to win, 14-13. They nearly pulled off another miracle, only this time safety Alec Barron knocked away a fourth down pass at the Dolphins’ 10-yard line with nine seconds left and Palisades earned its fourth straight win and neighborhood bragging rights.
“It’s been a funny two games with them… we blew it last year and today they wasted some great opportunities to go up by two or three touchdowns,” said Pali High Coach Tim Hyde, who intends to keep the crosstown rivalry going. “They won the fourth quarter last year and we won it this year. This was a game where we had to adjust series by series. To go from where we were for Cleveland to where we are now says a lot about our kids. I’m so proud of them.”
After the teams traded punts, Brentwood (3-2) drove 93 yards in seven plays, scoring on a sneak by quarterback Cole Lourd, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 277 yards—including five throws for 70 yards to 6-foot-5 Dartmouth commit and Palisadian Jack Dyett.
After Luc Yoshimaru picked off a pass by quarterback Forrest Brock, the Eagles marched inside the 5-yard line and seemed poised to go up by 14 points, but Riley jumped in front of a slant pass intended for Kyle Zeitlan and that proved to be the turning point.
“We stole one from them last year so I knew they’d be fired up,” Brentwood Coach Jake Ford said. “Most of our guys play both ways and when you’re going against a team with 60 kids on the sideline you worry about them wearing us down and that’s what happened.”
The Eagles’ miscue seemed to wake up the Dolphins’ slumbering offense. They marched 65 yards in 12 plays and although they settled for a 30-yard field goal by Tommy Meek, they had confidence going to the locker room down only 7-3.
“It felt great when it left my foot… it was a bad snap and [holder] Eli Manheim did a good job,” said Meek, who added a 40-yarder to pull Palisades to within a point on its opening drive of the second half and averaged 44 yards on four punts. “This game was personal.”
The Dolphins forced a three-and-out and took over at their own 35, driving 65 yards in nine plays and taking the lead on a four-yard run by Max Palees, who added the two-point try to make it 14-7.
Palees ran for 95 yards in 17 carries and losing was no option.
“I live on Barrington and so Brentwood School is like 500 feet from my house,” said Palees, one of Palisades’ five captains, who also had five catches for 46 yards. “I played receiver in 8th grade before Coach Marsden moved me to running back on JV. I like catching balls out of the backfield and running routes. This was about pride and revenge. For us seniors, it was our last chance to beat them.”
Lourd capped an 80-yard, 12-play drive with a 10-yard scamper to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 14-13, but Vernard Harris blocked the extra point to keep Palisades ahead.
With under nine minutes left, Palisades embarked on a 15-play, 99-yard march that lasted nearly seven minutes and culminated in a 20-yard run by Kenny Cline.
“I told my players to let them score,” Ford said. “We were out of timeouts and it was the only way to get the ball back.”
Hyde made a gutsy call too by going for it on fourth-and-two at Palisades’ 35 to keep the clinching drive alive. The gamble worked to keep the chains and clock moving.
“We ran a play we’ve never run in a game,” Hyde said. “But it was behind Sy so I felt confident.”