When game officials decided the best plan of action at Friday’s Palm Desert-Cathedral City game was to pull the plug at halftime because of sustained lightning, it might have saved the Lions from further kicking woes.
Cathedral City (0-8, 0-4) suffered kicking game disaster after kicking game disaster to help Palm Desert (4-3, 3-0) build its 21-0 halftime advantage. Meanwhile, the Palm Desert kicking game was sharp, producing three touchbacks in the first quarter and a 35-yard field goal. The Aztecs got the rest of their points through two safeties yielded by the Cathedral City punt team, and touchdown runs of 12 and six yards from senior running back Beau Berryhill.
As halftime neared, lightning flashed all around the stadium, and officials initially made the decision to implement a 30-minute weather delay. However, after just minutes of consultation with officials and coaches from both teams, all determined the safest course of action was to forgo the second half. At first, officials said the CIF would have to be consulted regarding the remainder of the game, and later it was determined that the Aztecs would be declared the game-winners.
Things could have been different, lightning aside. Cathedral City provided its own bolt from the blue on its first possession of the game. With fourth and five from their own 20, the Lions executed a fake punt that went for an 80-yard touchdown. However, a holding call brought the ball back to the midfield stripe. A personal foul pushed the Lions back further, and a 30-yard punt set the Aztecs up at the 50. Five plays later, Palm Desert kicker Tommy Jacobsson connected on a 35-yard field goal to put the visitors up, 3-0.
After the Lions went three-and-out on their next possession, their punt team gave up its first safety of the night when a high snap rolled out of the back of the end zone. With just over four minutes to play in the first quarter, the Aztecs had a 5-0 lead. It got worse. The subsequent free kick traveled only 13 yards and was smothered by Palm Desert at the Lions’ 33. Four plays later, Berryhill scored from 12 yards out, and the extra point gave the Aztecs a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, facing fourth and 33 from their own 2, the Lions’ punt team again gave up two points with a high snap out of the back of the end zone. With only one touchdown, Palm Desert led 14-0.
However, there was one more special teams debacle to come. On the ensuing free kick, Tristen Sinkinson collected the ball at his own 30 and returned it to the Cathedral City 32. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Lions moved the ball down to the Lions’ 15. Cathedral City’s defense tried to make a stand, but on fourth and 1 from the 6, Berryhill glided through a hole on the left side of the line and into the end zone. The extra point gave the Aztecs the 21-0 lead that would eventually be the final score.
STAR OF THE GAME
Beau Berryhill, running back, Palm Desert: Berryhill was on his way to a big night after the first two quarters, having rushed for two touchdowns and 64 yards on 10 carries. He also unofficially made five tackles, two for losses. He was stopped only once for negative yardage, and had three runs of over 10 yards.
JUST THE FACTS
Cathedral City unofficially put the ball on the ground four times in the first half. Twice, the loose balls resulted in safeties, and they retained the other two fumbles….Each team had two players throw the football, and none of the four threw an interception…Palm Desert kicker Tommy Jacobsson was 1-2 on field goal attempts on the night. He also kicked off three times with the wind in the first quarter, and all three kicks resulted in touchbacks. One kick hit the crossbar of the goalpost and bounced through…The Lions have now been shut out in three straight games.
Palm Desert (3-3, 2-0) host Palm Springs in a battle for the league’s top spot while Cathedral City (0-7, 0-3) travels to Indio (1-6, 0-3).
Palm Desert 21, Cathedral City 0
PD-Tommy Jacobsson 35 FG
PD-Beau Berryhill 12 run (Jacobsson kick)
PD-Berryhill 6 run (Jacobsson kick)
PD: Beau Berryhill, 10-64-2; Brian Devlin, 2-25; Matthew Fitzgerald, 4-11. CC: Jordan Wallace, 8-0; James Green III 4–2; Timothy Miller, 4–13.
PASSING (Comp.-Att- INT—TD- Yds) — PD: Brian Devlin, 0-1-0-0-0; Matthew Fitzgerald, 5-7-0-0-48. CC: Timothy Miller, Cameron Lee, 2-5-0-0-9; Jordan Wallace, 1-1-0-0-9.
PD: Dakota Romero, 2-39; Brooks Stephenson, 2-9; Denton Anderson, 1-5. Dameon Stovall-Price, 3-39. CC: Jordan Wallace, 1-9; Jose Hernandez, 2-9.