PaliHi Football Edged by South Gate, 32-31

By Sue Pascoe

With 1:45 left in the game between Palisades High and South Gate on Friday night, the host Rams scored a touchdown and made the two-point conversion to gain a 32-31 lead. The Dolphins were unable to score and lost their first game of the season, after a 3-0 start.

Only seven minutes earlier, Pali was comfortably ahead, 31-17. What happened? “We had multiple opportunities,” Head Coach Tim Hyde said. “We gave it away because we didn’t finish. We didn’t make the plays.”

Maybe there was an omen in the first half, when South Gate scored first after recovering a Pali fumble.

The Dolphins got back in the game when quarterback Daniel Hayes threw a 35-yard pass to Cameron Bailey, who caught it in the end zone, and kicker Campbell Geddes added the PAT to tie the score.

Dakota Hamilton runs the ball.
Photo: Drew Vaupen

However, Pali had difficulty containing South Gate’s senior quarterback Ernie Arcia, a three-year starter and All-City second team last year. He provided a calming influence for his team and completed 18 passes for 223 yards.

It was a sloppy game for both teams, but South Gate settled in the fourth quarter and that made the difference.

In the second quarter, Pali was fighting upfield, when South Gate intercepted a pass on the 30-yard line.

The Dolphin defense held, aided by a tackle by Sy Riley and several penalties, but the offense fumbled and South Gate recovered on Pali’s 25. The Rams promptly fumbled on their first play and Pali gained possession, but couldn’t move the ball, and Campbell Geddes punted to South Gate’s 35.

Two players later, Pali sophomore Xavier Whitfield intercepted a pass and the Dolphins had possession on their own 32. Hayes passed to Bailey and Alex Vaupen, and handed off to Dakota Hamilton, to work the ball down to the one-yard line. Hayes took it in for the touchdown and Geddes kicked the extra point for a 14-7 lead.

After the kickoff, Palisades recovered a fumble on South Gate’s 35. Several penalties moved the ball back to the 50, but Hayes passed to Jack Stansell for 21 yards, and Geddes kicked a 46-yard field goal with just .07 left in the half.

The Dolphins opened the second half with a 70-yard scoring drive, sparked by Hamilton’s running and Bailey’s pass receptions. Max Palees ran the ball in from the 12, and the PAT made the score 24-7.

South Gate scored a touchdown late in the quarter, and opened the final quarter with a field goal to cut Pali’s lead to 24-17.

Linebacker Noah Karp makes a one-armed tackle.
Photo: Drew Vaupen

Following the kickoff, Hamilton broke loose for a 50-yard run down to South Gate’s 30. Pali fumbled, but Vaupen recovered on the 20, and after a 15-yard run by Bailey, Palees scored his team’s final TD.

Then with eight minutes left in the game, the Dolphins packed up and checked out, enabling the Rams to control play and score two touchdowns, plus the PAT and the decisive two-point conversion.

After the game, senior middle linebacker Noah Karp said, “We made more mistakes. We gave the game away. They didn’t win it, we lost it.”

“You have to take care of the opportunities you’re given; we had a chance to put them away and we didn’t,” Hamilton said. “We weren’t doing what we usually do.”

He added, “We’re going to take this loss and keep moving like a train. We’re going to get this back, we will not let this define us.”

The Dolphins will play Huntington Park at home this Friday night, September 22, at 7 p.m.


Look for more complete coverage online and in this week’s paper.
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