PaliHi Loses to Eagle Rock, 24-21, in City Playoffs
Much to Eagle Rock’s dismay, Palisades High was one play away from upsetting them in the first round of the City Section Open Division playoffs.
Going into the game, PaliHi (8-2) was seeded seventh and Eagle Rock (9-0) was seeded second.
Eagle Rock, known for its quick offense, had crushed some of its opponents in high scoring games: South Gate 50-14, Fairfax 37-20, Marshall 67-0 and Wilson 56-13.
So PaliHi was the underdog. Sure, the Dolphins had defeated Westchester and Venice, but also lost to Fairfax and Brentwood.
In the first quarter, Eagle Rock scored two quick touchdowns, and Palisades got one on a pass from quarterback Daniel Hayes to Jake Nadley.
Eagle Rock moved ahead 21-7 in the second quarter. Just before half, Hayes connected with Nadley for another TD, but the Eagles blocked Tommy Meek’s PAT kick to keep the score 21-13.
Defense dominated the second half.
After Pali was forced to punt, the Eagles took over and moved downfield before settling for a field goal that eventually proved pivotal.
Following the kickoff, Pali advanced to Eagle Rock’s 10, then down to the one, only to lose the ball on a fumble.
Eagle Rock tried to move up the field, but tackles by Janney, Syaire Riley and Immanuel Newell plus a sack by Jack Stansell “ruffled” the feathers. Then Janney had an interception and Palisades took over on its own 48, but the Dolphins were forced to punt to start the fourth quarter.
The Palisades defense, aided by a quarterback sack by Newell and Jason Glover, forced an Eagle Rock punt at the Eagles’ 19. The punt went straight up in the air and landed on the 25. Hayes completed a third touchdown pass to Nadley and the Dolphins made a two-point conversion to close the gap to 24-21.
With nine minutes to play, Eagle Rock drove downfield, running time off the clock. Tackles by Stansell and Obi Nwanonenyi forced a fourth-down situation on Pali’s 15, but the Eagles went for it. Riley once again came through with a strong tackles and Pali took over on downs with about four minutes to play.
The Dolphins started driving, but after two incomplete passes, Hayes threw an interception. Yet once the Pali defense forced an Eagle Rock punt with less than two minutes to play.
The Dolphins had one last opportunity to score, and win the game, but a pass interception ended the game.
Afterwards, Pali Head Coach Tim Hyde said, “We had missed opportunities, but came up just one play short.
“It’s not about wins or losses, it’s about competing and we competed,” he said. “2018 was an unbelievable year.”
A reporter for MaxPreps wrote, “Eagle Rock almost let the contest get away from them in the second half, but they had just enough oomph to take it.”
Hyde was in uncharted territory at the beginning of the season. He had only 17 seniors—his offensive line had graduated (and had gone on to schools like UCLA and UC Davis), and the majority of his players were juniors.
After the first game, Hyde said, “We have some good football players, good athletes, but a lot of young kids.
“But,” he added, “we’re still trying to figure out who we are.”
The Dolphins figured it out, game by game, and almost pulled off an upset against undefeated Eagle Rock.
The MaxPreps Players of the Game were Nadley (overall), Janney (offense) and Riley (defense). Newell made special teams.
Hayes attempted 31 passes and hit Nadley five times for a total of 75 yards. Janney had five carries for 100 yards and Max Palees 22 carries for 82 yards.
In other Open Division contests, top-seeded Narbonne routed Venice 67-0, Birmingham (4) beat San Fernando (5) 20-14, and Garfield (6) upset Carson (3) 14-10. This Friday, Birmingham faces Narbonne and Garfield plays Eagle Rock.