Palisades Takes Two Days to Beat Venice, 24-17
It took two days, but the Palisades High football overcame arch-rival Venice, 24-17, at Venice on Saturday evening.
Play started on Friday night, and it was a disastrous start for the Dolphins, who fell behind 10-0.
Pali players looked tentative but had begun to make adjustments when Mother Nature stepped in and officials called the game because of lighting.
This was a key Western League game for the Dolphins, who were 5-2 overall and 1-1 in Western League play following a 30-23 loss to Fairfax and a dominating win over Westchester. They needed to beat Venice (2-0 in league) to keep their hopes alive for a berth in the City Section open division playoffs.
Prior to this game, Venice’s offense had scored 37 points or higher in every game, defeating Harvard-Westlake (35-30), Arleta (56-15), Paramount (37-34), Hamilton (41-0) and University (42-0). The team’s only losses were to St. Paul (38-0) and Newbury Park (38-35).
When the game resumed on Saturday, it was a different Palisades team—focused and confident.
Play began where it had left off, with the Dolphins on their own 39-yard-line. Quarterback Forrest Brock used five plays to move the ball to the Venice 20, but the ball was fumbled, and the Gondoliers took over.
Thanks to tackles by Pali’s Noah Ghodooshim, Jack Stansell, Waka White and Jake Nadley, Venice was forced to punt.
Starting from their own 40, the Dolphins reached the Venice 27 behind running back Max Palees (who missed the previous game with an injury) and a 13-yard pass to Nadley. Pali was penalized 10 yards, but Brock passed to Ghodooshim for 26 yards and Palees ran for five yards. With just 17 seconds left, Tom Meek kicked a field goal and the halftime score was 10-3.
Venice kicked off to start the third quarter and Jared La Violette returned the ball 64 yards down to the Venice 26. Palees carried it to the 10 over three plays, and then Brock passed to Will Janney for the touchdown. Meek kicked the PAT.
Venice once again had trouble moving the ball against the Pali defense, which had tackles by Stansell and junior Joe Huff, and had to punt.
Palisades advanced the ball from its own 15 to the 40, but was also forced to punt.
Venice started on its own 23, and this time the Pali defense had key plays by senior Janney and juniors Syaire Riley, Xavier Whitfield and La Violette. The Gondoliers then fumbled and Stansell recovered on the Venice 38.
Brock, in quick fashion, passed to Nadley for seven yards and then to Janney for another 11 yards. A pass to Ghoddoshim put the ball on the Venice 6 and Palees took it in for the touchdown. Meek’s PAT was good, and with 41 seconds left in the third quarter, the Dolphins had their first lead, 17-10.
Venice began to drive downfield, but Nadley intercepted a pass on the Palisades 30. The Dolphins reached the Venice 38, but a penalty forced them to punt with seven minutes left to play.
Palisades defenders, including Nadley, White and Stansell, continued to give quarterback Luca Diamont “nothing but trouble,” and then it got worse for the Gondoliers when Diamont was sacked by Ghodooshim and Immanuel Newell on the Venice 15.
A miserable punt enabled Pali to start its next drive on the Venice 25. Two carries by Palees and a pass to Ghodooshim gave Pali a touchdown and Meek’s PAT widened the lead to 24-10.
Venice rallied for a touchdown on a completed pass by Diamont and a PAT with 1:48 left, making the score 24-17.
Pali tried to eat up the clock but had to punt with 28 seconds left. Diamont completed three passes in a row, but with one second left, his pass into the endzone was knocked away by La Violette. (Craig Weston’s photo of the nearly completed pass showed how narrowly the Dolphins avoided going into overtime.)
In only his second complete game, sophomore Brock completed 12 of 22 passes for 156 yards. Palees carried 24 times and gained 121 yards.
About the continuation of the game, Palisades Head Coach Tim Hyde said, “It was a chance to regroup. [On Friday] Venice came out and punched us in the mouth. We had just started to make adjustments, when they called the game.
“We played with a lot of energy [on Saturday] and Venice didn’t,” he said, noting that when the season started, his team was essentially starting from scratch, having lost a majority of starters to graduation.
“For us to do this. . .we’ve had five straight nail-biters,” he said. “We were two plays away from 7-0.” The Dolphins gave away the Fairfax game and lost to Brentwood in the remaining few minutes.
“Anytime Pali beats Venice, it’s a great win,” Hyde said, praising his players. “They played their tails off.”
Palisades will host University this Friday, then close league play against Hamilton. Currently, Palisades, Fairfax, Westchester and Venice are 2-1.