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Kory Hall breaks away late, helps Cleveland beat Palisades to stay undefeated

Cleveland wide receiver Kory Hall catches a pass against Palisades on Sept. 16, 2022.
Cleveland wide receiver Kory Hall catches a pass against Palisades on Friday night. Hall’s 68-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter helped the Cavaliers pick up a 34-14 nonleague victory in Reseda.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)
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After being contained for most of the game, Kory Hall drew single coverage down the sideline and caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Emiliano Lopez midway through the fourth quarter and Cleveland never looked back.

In an early season matchup between two teams vying to make the City Section Open Division playoffs, the Cavaliers stayed on track with a 34-14 nonleague victory over Palisades in a battle of unbeatens Friday night in Reseda.

“I play both ways, and if I don’t make a play on offense to help my team, I make it on defense,” Hall said. “I think a lot of people were sleeping on us, but we think we can compete with anyone.”

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Here’s how The Times’ top 25 high school football teams in the Southland fared in this week’s games.

Sept. 17, 2022

Cleveland (4-0) improved to 6-8 all time against Palisades and won for the second time in the teams’ five meetings over the last six seasons.

The Dolphins (3-1) suffered only their third loss in 20 games dating back to the spring of 2021.

While both teams began the night undefeated, the combined record of their opponents was 3-19, so neither had faced a serious test. Now each has, and for Cleveland, the needle is still pointed up.

Donovan Powell opened the scoring with a 13-yard run for the Cavaliers, who avenged a 39-0 shutout at Palisades last fall. Hall set up the score with a 30-yard interception return to the Dolphins’ 45-yard line.

Cleveland quarterback Emiliano Lopez tries to elude Palisades defensive end Immanuel Robinson on Sept. 16, 2022.
Cleveland quarterback Emiliano Lopez tries to escape the grasp of Palisades defensive end Immanuel Robinson on Friday night.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Mikael King-Haagen answered with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Roman La Scala early in the second quarter, but Daniel Guzman’s one-yard scoring run put Cleveland back on top 14-7. Palisades had a first down at the Cavaliers’ six-yard line late in the first half, but quarterback Zachary Lifton was sacked and fumbled with one second left.

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King-Haagen caught a six-yard touchdown pass from La Scala to tie it 14-14 early in the third quarter, but Andrew Shackelford caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Lopez five minutes later to put the Cavaliers ahead to stay.

Five miles away, Granada Hills was hosting Eagle Rock in the City’s other big game with Open Division playoff implications, but Cleveland’s defense proved to be the big difference against Palisades, recovering two fumbles and intercepting three passes.

Freshman quarterback Brady Smigiel puts on show, passing for 245 yards and four touchdowns in Newbury Park’s 55-0 victory over Royal.

Sept. 16, 2022

Hall’s touchdown made it 27-14 with 7:09 left in the fourth quarter, and Powell tacked on a six-yard touchdown run to produce the final margin.

Hall, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, entered the game as one of the City’s best wide receivers, having caught six passes for 231 yards and four scores the week before in a 35-7 victory at Canoga Park. He lived up to the hype against Palisades.

Palisades tailback Chris Washington runs for a first down in the first quarter.
Palisades tailback Chris Washington runs for a first down in the first quarter against Cleveland.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“On the touchdown, I just had to make a play. ... I got a step on the defender, and the ball was in a perfect spot,” Hall said. “All I had to do was catch it.”

Cleveland was 6-3 last year and lost to Dorsey 34-28 in the quarterfinals of the City Division I playoffs. Palisades won its first 11 games last year before losing to San Pedro 33-17 in the Open Division semifinals.

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