May 24, 2024

Luke Gayton caught three touchdown passes from Ryan Rakowski while Hobbs Brannan and Eric Mulkey each ran for a score as Palos Verdes clinched its third straight Bay League championship Friday afternoon with a 34-31 victory over Culver City.

The Sea Kings (9-0, 4-0), No. 8 in The Times’ Top 25 rankings, can wrap up the regular season undefeated with a win next Friday at last-place Peninsula. It was their 14th league win in a row. Their last league loss was 42-28 at Culver City on April 9, 2021.

“One was a fade and the other two were on comebacks to the pylon,” Gayton said, describing his touchdowns. “We spent all week practicing those routes, I trust Ryan to get it there and he made perfect throws. Every week it’s about taking care of business and this game was no different.”

Palos Verdes WR Luke Gayton leaps high in the end zone for the second of his three touchdown catches against Culver City.

Palos Verdes WR Luke Gayton leaps high in the end zone for the second of his three touchdown catches against Culver City.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Gayton, who committed to Washington two weeks ago, had touchdown grabs of four and 15 yards in the first half and a 25-yard scoring reception late in the third quarter that regained the lead for Palos Verdes, 27-24. He has 10 touchdown catches this season.

Culver City struck first on a 32-yard pass from Sammy Silvia to Harley Moore just 4:07 into the game, but Gayton ended the Sea Kings’ ensuing drive with his four-yard touchdown. After Hugo Wayner recovered a fumble by Moore on the kickoff, Gayton made a 15-yard, over-the-shoulder catch on a well-placed pass from Rakowski to put Palos Verdes ahead 14-7 on the first play of the second quarter.

Silvia completed 19 of 34 attempts for 320 yards and three touchdowns for the visiting Centaurs (6-3, 3-1). Braylon Singleton had eight catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. Myles Singleton had four catches for 49 yards and one touchdown and added a three-yard scoring run that pulled Culver City within 34-31 with 6:09 left.

Palos Verdes took over at its 43-yard line and methodically marched to the Centaurs’ 13 in 10 plays to run out the clock behind the 1-2 punch of Brannan and Mulkey, who combined for 170 rushing yards.

“We try to be as physical as we can and even though they stopped our ground game in the first half, this team keeps punching,” Mulkey said. “We have a lot of grit. Hobbs is a baller and it’s cool to see him getting opportunities and making the most of them. I’m proud of him. We’re like a double-edged sword.”

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