FOOTBALL: Palmyra survives Elco, moves to 2-0
PALMYRA >> If Friday night's performance is any indication, the Palmyra football team may take some years off the life of the fandom — and head coach Chris Pope — this season.
But it looks like the Cougars will also put a lot of life in their years.
Either way, football is fun again at Palmyra.
With an uneven but decidedly entertaining and gutsy performance, the Cougars beat the back the challenge of a stubborn Elco squad on Friday night, outlasting the Raiders 30-22 at Buck Swank Stadium.
En route to improving to 2-0 in the early going, Palmyra rode playmaking junior running backs Alon Rhette and Carl Reigle and an opportunistic defense to the victory, which wasn't assured until Elco quarterback Jeff Martin was sacked in Palmyra territory on the game's final play.
Set up to punt near midfield with 13 seconds remaining, the Cougars gave Martin and company one last chance when the snap was mishandled and the Raiders fell on it at the Elco 28.
Hey, what fun would it have been to win easily, something Palmyra appeared primed to do after jumping out to leads of 10-0 and 23-7 in the first half.
"This took a lot of years off my life, I think," Pope said with a smile after emerging from the jubilant Palmyra locker room. "But it's an awesome win. Elco is a really good football team, and they came down here and brought the full measure. We were able to do the things we needed to do to hold them off and get the win."
Among those things was forcing three first half turnovers, which included an Ian Fogleman interception on the first play from scrimmage, and four combined touchdowns from Rhette (18 carries, 184 yards, two TDs) and the ultra versatile Reigle, who scored on a 57-yard reception in the first quarter and notched a critical five-yard TD run with 7:24 left after Elco had pulled to within one on a Tyler Horst TD run late in the third.
It's a far cry from the dark days that Palmyra endured in 2012 and 2013, to say the least.
"I'm feeling good right now," Reigle said of the current state of the program. "It wasn't perfect tonight, there's things that we can do better, but compared to last year and the years before, we're making progress."
Elco (0-2) certainly didn't make it easy on the Cougars to progress, rallying from the aforementioned deficits behind the play of Martin (211 passing yards, two touchdown) and Horst, whose eight-yard TD blast late in the third helped make it a 23-22 game.
"When you get in a game like this it's about who believes in victory and who believes in victory the longest," Pope said. "Our guys are excited about the season and I think we wanted this win. We dug down and did what we needed to do."
Including, of course, sack the strong-armed Martin with the possibility of overtime hanging in the balance.
"We just said, 'This is our time,'" Reigle said. "Every play, we had to play like it was our last."
Palmyra 30, Elco 22
P — Harro 28 FG
P — Reigle 57 pass from Gallagher (Harro kick)
E — Zimmerman 49 pass from Martin (Hackman kick)
P — Rhette 47 run (kick failed)
P — Rhette 68 run (Harro kick)
E — Olson 35 pass from Martin (Hackman kick)
E — Horst 8 run (Beamer pass)
P — Reigle 5 run (Harro kick)
EPFirst downs1422Rushes-yards28-11242-249Passing13-28-24-12-1Passing yards21187Total yards323336Punts3-27.04-30.8Fumbles-lost1-11-1Penalties-yards3-354-36
Rushing — E: Horst 14-68, Martin 8-16, Bidelspach 4-16, Knight 2-12, P: Rhette 18-184, Reigle 22-64, Gallagher 2-1
Passing — E: Martin 13-28-2-211, P: Gallagher 4-12-1-87
Receiving — E: Olson 3-79, Zimmerman 3-67, Horst 3-17, Rolon 1-23, Knight 1-12, Beamer 1-9, Miller 1-4. P: Robertson 3-30, Reigle 1-57.