Standing Alone: Highlanders Last Polk Team in Playoffs After Victory Over Palmetto, 17-14
Fri. November 23, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Rick Brown
Lake Wales Justin Henderson tries to make a couple of yards against Palmetto defenders Friday night at Lake Wales. Friday, November 23 ,2012. (Photo by George Aycrigg | News Chief)
By RICK BROWN
LAKE WALES | The Lake Wales Highlanders are starting to play their best football at the right time and now they are advancing to the regional finals.
The Highlanders got two touchdown passes from Railond Garrett and hung on to defeat the Palmetto Tigers, 17-14 Friday in Class 5A regional semifinal action at Legion Field.
"This team is going on," said Lake Wales coach Rod Shafer. "I'm surprised really. We didn't play well in the beginning, but we're hanging together."
With the victory, the Highlanders advance to the regional final game where they will take on a familiar foe: Immokalee.
Lake Wales (7-4) defeated Immokalee 19-14 in Lake Wales on Sept. 21, a game played in a torrid rainstorm.
"I don't know if either one of us knows anything about the other," Shafer said. "That was the game played in that big rainstorm. But it will be a heck of a game."
Garrett threw touchdown passes of 63 yards and 12 yards to help the Highlanders get the victory.
"I'm happy, we got the win," said Garrett, who completed 3-of-10 passes for 56 yards, including the 43-yard touchdown to Tony Reeves. "We haven't been to the third round in two years. This is real big for us. We're going back."
Lake Wales got on the board first when Garrett threw a screen to Reeves, who weaved his way to the sidelines and to the end zone.
Palmetto (9-3) tied it on a 48-yard touchdown run by EJ Burston off a reverse in the second quarter, but the Highlanders took a 10-7 lead into half on a 22-yard field goal by Tate Mathewson.
Lake Wales made it 17-7 on a 12-yard pass from Garrett to Davi'on Riley in the third. Palmetto got closer when Hicks returned a fumble four yards for a score early in the fourth.
Palmetto had one final shot, but Jermel Moment picked off a pass in Lake Wales territory to all but ice the game.
Reeves finished with a team-high 78 yards rushing for Lake Wales.
Hicks, a Rutgers commit, also rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries for Palmetto.
But the Highlanders made the plays when they had to, including an interception on the Tigers' final drive.
"We just tried to take care of gaps and make them make plays," Shafer said. "They're a great team. It's a great win for us. We needed to that."
Palmetto 0 7 0 7 — 14
Lake Wales 7 3 7 0 — 17
LW – Tony Reeves 63 pass from Railond Garrett (Tate Mathewson kick), 1:15
P – EJ Burston 48 run (Zack Reda kick), 8:54
LW – Tate Mathewson 22 FG, 3:10
LW – Davi'on Riley 12 pass from Garrett (Mathewson kick), 9:14
P – Josh Hicks 4 fumble return (Reda kick), 10:35
PHS || LW
First Downs 11 14
Rushes/yards 22/197 43/200
Passing yards 102 76
Passing 9-24-1 1-3-0
Total offense 299 256
Fumbles/Lost 1-0 3-1
Punts/avg 5/32.6 5/34.4
Penalties/yds 10/93 4/30
Records 9-3 7-4
Rushing: PHS— Josh Hicks 15-127; LW — Tony Reeves 13-78
Passing: PHS— Chris Tuten 9-24-1 102 yards; LW — Railond Garrett 3-10-0 76 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving: PHS— EJ Burston 4-48; LW — Tony Reeves 1-63, 1 TD.