May 27, 2024

The question heading into Friday afternoon’s beach showdown between Palos Verdes and Edison was whether Sea Kings freshman quarterback Ryan Rakowski would get rattled in the face of a swarming Chargers defense. The answered was an emphatic “no.”

The ninth-grader showed poise under pressure, avoided any big mistakes, managed the offense and passed his team to a 31-28 victory over an elite Orange County program for the second week in a row. Eight days before in Newport Beach, he defied his age, shaking off a first-half interception to lead a 14-11 upset of Corona del Mar.

Senior defensive lineman Carson Moore made the play of the game Friday by knifing through the line to deflect a punt at the goal line by Nico Hammer, whose kick floated high and out of bounds at the Edison 27-yard line. Six plays later, junior Dylan Freebury made a 27-yard field goal with one second left for the win.

“This was my first real game-winning kick, but I just trusted my routine, everything I’ve done in practice,” said Freebury, who had to wait several agonizing minutes when Edison called back-to-back timeouts in an attempt to ice him. “I was confident I’d make it and that [stall tactic] didn’t bother me. It only made me more determined. We’re like a family and this is a huge win for our team.”

Edison running back Julius Gillick, right, fights for yardage before being knocked out of bounds.

Edison running back Julius Gillick, right, fights for yardage before being knocked out of bounds by Palos Verdes linebacker Jacob Reis on Friday.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

After a touchback, Edison got one last play from its own 20, but junior quarterback Save Niumata’s pass was broken up at midfield by defensive back Evan Aguirre with no time on the clock.

Edison (1-2), ranked No. 13 in the Southland by The Times, scored first on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Niumata to senior wideout Cooper Dobbs midway through the first quarter. No. 17 Palos Verdes (4-0) responded with an 11-play, 73-yard march, capped by Rakowski’s scramble and a seven-yard strike to Luke Gayton in the end zone.

The Chargers regained the lead, 14-7, on Niumata’s 53-yard pass to Mason York early in the second quarter. Once again, Palos Verdes answered, moving 65 yards in 15 plays and scoring on Gayton’s 10-yard reception. Following a fumble recovery at the Edison 15, the Sea Kings cashed in on Eric Mulkey’s three-yard keeper to take their first lead, 21-14, with 1:28 left in the half.

Palos Verdes wide receiver Luke Gayton scores the Sea Kings’ second touchdown Friday against Edison.

Palos Verdes wide receiver Luke Gayton scores the Sea Kings’ second touchdown Friday against Edison on a 10-yard slant pass in the second quarter.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Niumata and York hooked up for another touchdown, a 12-yard connection, to pull the Chargers even at 21-21 on their first drive of the second half. Palos Verdes retook the lead on Mulkey’s 10-yard run with 7:14 left, but Edison tied it 28-28 on a 35-yard run by Jared Schnoor with 5:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Mulkey rushed for 100 yards and quarterbacked the Sea Kings’ final drive, running for a crucial first down to set up a kneel-down by Rakowski to burn all but five seconds and set up Freebury’s winning boot.

“Our coaches installed a great game plan, and we took it one play at a time and executed,” Rakowski said. “We haven’t had much success against Edison and CDM in the past, but this year we have a physicality to match them. I like to be a playmaker. I’m undersized for a quarterback so I have to use my legs and arms to make things happen.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *