Moses Ross Catches Three Touchdown Passes as Dolphins Avenge Loss to Venice
Anticipating that Venice would stack the box in an effort to slow down star running back Daniel Anoh, Palisades High offensive coordinator Rocky Montz told quarterback Sammy Silvia to look for one-on-one matchups in the secondary during last Friday night’s Western League opener. The sophomore backup followed instructions to a tee and burned the host Gondoliers by tossing three touchdown passes in the first half—all to wideout Moses Ross—as the Dolphins avenged a humiliating 36-0 setback in the spring with a resounding 33-13 victory that put Palisades in the driver’s seat in the race for the league football title.
Ross got the party started on the Dolphins’ third offensive play by catching a strike over the middle then juking a pair of defensive backs, causing them to collide with each other while he sprinted past for a 75-yard score. Midway through the second quarter, Ross caught a perfectly-placed pass in stride down the sideline and outran two Gondoliers to the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown. On Palisades’ next drive, Ross showed tremendous leaping ability with an acrobatic grab in the end zone over Venice safety Elijah Johnson that gave the Dolphins a 23-0 lead just before halftime. Venice was down but not out.
A Palisades miscue allowed the Gondoliers (1-3) to get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when a high snap sailed into the end zone and several Venice players pounced on it. Giovanni Ferrero began the fourth quarter booting a 22-yard field goal—his second of the game—to increase Palisades’ advantage to 26-7. Venice responded with a long march capped by Paul Kessler’s five-yard pass to tight end Thomas Kensinger. The extra point was blocked, but the Gondoliers had hope of a comeback.
That hope was dashed only 20 seconds later when Anoh, who had been bottled up most of the night, finally broke free for a 75-yard score that put the game out of reach and moved him within 10 of tying the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season (24) set by Terence O’Neal in 1998.
Ross had seven catches for 162 yards and Silvia, starting his second straight game in place of the injured Dylan Hassid, completed 18 of his 29 attempts for 301 yards. Venice holds a 29-25-1 edge in a rivalry that began in 1961, but Palisades has won four of the last six.
“On the last touchdown I just tracked it, kept my eyes on the ball and made sure I got my foot down,” said Ross, who became the first Pali High player with three touchdown catches in a single game since Teddy Suisman’s trifecta versus Reseda in 2019. “Sammy Silvia is a fast learner. He pays attention in practice and he knows what to do. This is my last game against them and it’s a big win because of what happened last time.”
Anoh continues to creep closer to the school record for rushing yards in one season. Innocent Okoh holds the current mark with 1,965 yards in 12 games, which he set in 2016.
Anoh finished Friday’s game with 176 yards in 15 carries and Josh Russell added 27 yards in four carries. Anoh has already racked up 854 yards and 14 touchdowns and is averaging nearly 12 yards per carry.
Anoh added four catches for 32 yards, Kwazi Estes and Xavier Smith each had three receptions and Eli Ghodooshim had a 33-yard catch for the Dolphins. Toby Manheim led the defense with nine tackles, Josiah Christopher and Chris Washington had eight apiece, Jack Babala, Trinity Camden and Liam Herrera each had seven, Ricardo Abrego had six and Savyour Riley and Amari Yolas both had five.
The Dolphins have won their first six games for only the fourth time in program history and the first time since 1976 when they reeled off 11 in a row before falling to Cleveland 28-21 in the City 4A semifinals.
“Everything you guys want to accomplish this season is there for you, but you have to keep working, and it starts Monday,” Montz told his players in the postgame talk.
Palisades began the week third in the City Section rankings behind San Pedro and Banning, which met in a crucial Marine League battle Friday. Banning prevailed, 48-41, to leapfrog into the No. 1 position. Should Palisades win its remaining four games and secure a top four seed in the eight-team Open Division bracket, it would get to host a quarterfinal game. Of course, there are still 16 quarters of football to be played before then, but a potential home playoff game provides built-in motivation for the Dolphins, who last hosted a playoff game in 2017.
Palisades Coach Ray Marsden is spending a pretty penny on doughnuts this fall. The Dolphins posted their fourth shutout in six games by blanking Venice 29-0 last Friday.
All phases contributed: the defense forced a safety, Kellen Ford kicked three extra points, Brett Federman, Roman La Scala and Austin Meloche ran for scores and Jake Treibatch caught a touchdown pass.
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