Rivalry games sometimes come down to one play, and senior linebacker Arlandus Triplett made it for Venice, tackling quarterback Daniel Hayes one foot short on fourth and one at the Gondoliers’ 30-yard line with 30 seconds left to preserve a 34-28 Western League victory Friday night at Palisades.
The Dolphins (6-3, 2-2), who were trying to beat Venice in back-to-back years for the first time since 1999 and 2000, pulled to within six points on a 46-yard field goal by Campbell Geddes with 1:28 remaining.
Cristian Popescu recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Gondoliers’ 48-yard line, but Triplett saved the day five plays later for the Gondoliers (6-3, 4-0), who will play Fairfax for the league title next Friday.
“I had to pull out every trick play I had,” Venice Coach Angelo Gasca said. “On that last fourth down, I was holding my breath that someone would make a play, and I’m not surprised it was Arlandus.
“He stuffed the quarterback in the same situation earlier in the season [at El Camino Real] that won us the game,” Gasca added.
Receiver-turned-quarterback Dion Moore, who switched positions after returning signal-caller Luca Diamont suffered a fractured skull in July and was ruled out for the season, threw for almost 200 yards and rushed for 50 more, including touchdown runs of one and nine yards.
His primary target was wideout Brycen Tremayne, who caught six passes for 109 yards, including a 39-yard scoring reception early in the fourth quarter.
Chad Johnson, son of former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson, caught the winning 17-yard touchdown pass with 2:45 left, giving Venice a 34-25 lead.
Palisades marched 85 yards in 16 plays on its second drive, scoring on a 15-yard pass from Daniel Hayes to Cameron Bailey, who caught nine passes for 114 yards.
After Marcel Manson recovered a fumble at the Venice 27-yard line, the Gondoliers needed only four plays to drive 73 yards, tying the score on Moore’s 1-yard sneak.