Montgomery dazzles with two 80-yard-plus touchdowns as visiting Cardinal Newman drubs Palm Beach Central
WELLINGTON — Cardinal Newman junior wide receiver Naeshaun Montgomery had an 88-yard touchdown catch and 81-yard punt return for a score during the first half as the visiting Crusaders made a statement with a 28-7 victory against Palm Beach Central on Friday night.
Montgomery, a four-star recruit, has emerged as one of the top receivers in the country in his class.
“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Montgomery said. “I was ready for this game since the beginning of the year so I knew I needed to show out for my teammates. We had to come into this game and dominate.”
Cardinal Newman coach Jack Daniels said Montgomery has faced double-coverage by opponents throughout the season.
“He is explosive and we got some looks tonight,” Daniels said. “We took advantage of it.”
Cardinal Newman (8-1) led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and had a 21-0 advantage at halftime.
Senior quarterback Luke Warnock had two passing touchdowns in the first quarter.
“It’s my senior year and I want to go as far as possible,” Warnock said. “We have to lock in for the playoffs. I feel good about the offense and what we can do.”
Palm Beach Central (8-2) mishandled the snap to sophomore quarterback Caleb Butler on third down for a 27-yard loss during the opening possession of the contest. After punting the ball away, the Broncos were penalized for a personal foul late hit out-of-bounds and the sideline also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Cardinal Newman capitalized and scored on the first play on offense as Warnock tossed an 8-yard touchdown to senior Dallas Desouza with 9:07 left in the first.
The Broncos failed to convert on fourth-and-2 at the Crusaders’ 9-yard line on the next drive.
Warnock connected on a deep pass to Montgomery for an 88-yard score to extend the lead to 14-0 with 1:51 left in the first.
“We liked our matchup going into it and Naeshaun made a play and he went up and got it,” Warnock said. “It feels great, especially against a good opponent to get that big momentum shift at the beginning and we rode it all the way through the rest of the game.”
The Broncos defense recovered a fumble at their own 33 later in the second quarter.
The Crusaders pulled away late in the first half. Montgomery fielded a punt and started toward the left sideline before he slipped past defenders and sprinted in the other direction as he raced down the right sideline for an 81-yard return for a score with 56 seconds remaining in the second.
Palm Beach Central junior Damon Allen recorded an interception at the Crusaders’ 31 on the third play of the second half. On the next play, sophomore Jyron Hughley had an interception for the Crusaders.
The Broncos responded and stepped up with a blocked punt at the Crusaders’ 14. They missed a 44-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing drive.
Junior running back Jaylin Brown bounced out to the left for a 7-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-0.
Palm Beach Central junior quarterback Matis Gibson entered the game late in the fourth and rushed for a 14-yard touchdown with 3:00 left.
The Crusaders defense had multiple sacks and were led by senior linebacker Devon Byrd.
Palm Beach Central will host a Class 4M regional quarterfinal next week. The Broncos reached the state semifinal for the first time in school history last season.
Cardinal Newman will host Benjamin in a Class 1M regional semifinal for the second straight season in two weeks.
“We are in a good spot,” Daniels said. “The best thing about it is we are healthy.”