Cornerback Jared La Violette knocked away a desperation pass for receiver Makai Cope in the end zone with no time left as Palisades used stout defense and a little help from Mother Nature to stun Venice, 24-17, in a Western League thriller Saturday afternoon.
Venice boasts one of the most prolific offenses in the City Section, but visiting Palisades held the Gondoliers to one touchdown in the last three quarters of a game that started Friday night but was suspended because of lightning.
The Dolphins (6-2, 2-1) beat their arch rivals for the second time in three seasons and dealt Venice coach Angelo Gasca only his 10th league defeat in 19 years. Venice holds a 28-23-1 lead in a rivalry that began in 1961.
Thanks to a 27-yard touchdown run by Jojo Glaspie and a 37-yard field goal by Naing Thiha, Venice raced to a 10-0 first-quarter lead in the rain Friday night. But the Dolphins looked like a different team the next day.
“They punched us in the mouth and we’re lucky it wasn’t 21-0,” Palisades coach Tim Hyde said. “When the game was called it gave us a chance to regroup and we just stuck with our adjustments.”
Sophomore Forrest Brock, making only his second varsity start, completed 13 of 24 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including a 22-yard strike to tight end Noah Ghodooshim that gave the Dolphins a 24-10 lead with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Max Palees rushed for 102 yards in 24 carries, including a three-yard run that put Palisades ahead 17-10 late in the third quarter. Will Janney caught a 10-yard touchdown pass, Tommy Meek kicked a 20-yard field goal and Jake Nadley had an interception for Palisades, which can earn a City Section Open Division playoff berth with victories in its final two league games against University and Hamilton.
Venice quarterback Luca Diamont was held in check by Palisades, but threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Recardo Conliffe that brought Venice within 24-17 with 1:48 left.
After forcing a punt, the Gondoliers (5-3, 2-1) got the ball back at their own 37-yard line with 28 seconds left and marched to Palisades’ 37 with one second left, giving Diamont time for one last Hail Mary heave that La Violette knocked away.
Diamont threw for 2,066 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman but missed all of last season after falling out of a golf cart and fracturing his skull. He’s emerged as a City player of the year candidate as a junior, however, he’s been held to one touchdown pass in two games against Palisades.
“We knew we could compete with them,” Janney said. “Maybe we were a little overconfident and our emotions were everywhere yesterday, but we came here today believing we would win.”
Chad Johnson Jr., son of the former NFL Pro Bowl receiver, had eight catches for 101 yards for Venice.