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IMG_5477BY JEFF FALK

HERSHEY – It was the kind of effort that normally produces a different result. It was also the type of effort that the Palmyra football team has been putting forth all season long.

On Friday evening at Henry Hershey Field, on the campus of Milton Hershey School, the Cougars’ typical strong showing wasn’t enough to derail the home-standing Spartans on Senior Night. After momentum had switched sides for the better parts of three quarters, Milton Hershey made the plays when the outcome was on the line, tallying a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:05 to win it 35-24.

IMG_5423Palmyra had taken a 24-21 edge with 4:56 remaining, when seniors Michael Lewis and Mitchell Cooper collaborated on a 13-yard scoring strike. But on the ensuing kickoff  Cougar Zach Haney was injured and eventually taken by ambulance to Hershey Medical Center, with an apparent head injury.

When play resumed following a 30-minute delay, the Spartans tallied a winning and an insurance touchdown. Sandwiched between the two was a Cougar drive that reached the Milton Hershey 27 before stalling.

IMG_5470A Palmyra victory would’ve created a logjam at the top of the Mid-Penn Capital Division standings, but the outcome still left the reinvigorated Cougars 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the division. This fall has also erased the memories of Palmyra’s 1-19 overall record over the past two seasons.

The win assured the Spartans, now 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the circuit, at least a tie for the Capital Division title.

“We’ve had a tough two years,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “If we win tonight, we have a chance at a winning season. If we can attain a .500 season next week, that’s an accomplishment. I thought this team (Milton Hershey) was one of the best teams on our schedule. We wanted to compete.

IMG_5483“I’m very proud of this football team and what we’ve accomplished,” Pope continued. “We came a long way since Week One, and that’s what you’re looking for, improvement. We had some opportunities tonight. Who knows what would’ve happened if a couple of things had gone differently. But I’m very happy with our football team. We have a lot of young guys who will be back next year.”

The Cougars appeared to be in business when Lewis hooked up with favorite target Mitchell Cooper on a fade route to the back corner of the end zone with less than five minutes to go. But after Palmyra endured the emotional strain of watching of a teammate being placed on ‘the board’ and carted off the field, Keonte Lucas, the Spartans’ fluid quarterback, hit it with two game-changing plays – one using his arm and one using his feet.

With the Cougars clinging to its 24-21 edge, Lucas converted a fourth-down-and-seven situation into a scrambling 41-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Tyeair Diggs. Then after Palmyra’s failed response, Lucas sealed the victory with a twisting-turning, 72-yard  safari through the heart of the Cougar defense.

IMG_5372“It looked like he (Lucas) was scrambling and he popped it out there,” said Pope of the winning touchdown. “He does what he does. Trying to keep him contained was a project all night. He’s a great athlete.

“Any stop in a football game is going to be a break in momentum,” added Pope. “I thought both sides continued to play the football game. Everybody here did everything they could.”

After facing a 14-13 deficit in the locker room, the Cougars grabbed a 16-14 margin 4:22 into the second half, on Ethan Harro’s 26-yard field goal. The modest march had been set up by Carl Reigle’s 33-yard return of the second-half kickoff.

But on the first snap of the fourth quarter, Keith Hunter took a reverse and turned it into a 40-yard rushing touchdown down the left sideline to give the Spartans a 21-16 margin.

IMG_5426“We were able to move the football and I was happy about that,” said Pope. “We fought back from a deficit. I don’t think we let down. They’re (the Spartans) a good football team. They’re at the top of our division.

“Whenever you play hard after being stung, you’ve got to be pleased,” Pope added. “We showed up. We put forth a respectable effort for our community and our school.”

Palmyra assumed an early 13-0 advantage on a couple of long runs from scrimmage.

IMG_5398With 2:45 of the first quarter remaining. Austin Combs ripped off a 70-yard jaunt to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead. Then on the first snap of the second quarter, sophomore Alon Rhette, not to be outdone, scampered 84 yards to the promised land.

“Zach was responsive,” said Pope of the injury. “He obviously had a concussion, for sure. He didn’t know he was at a football game. But he could move his extremities, and his neck hurt. We’re praying he’s OK. I think someone double-backed on him.

“I’m just concerned about Zach,” continued Pope. “That takes over. That’s more important. This is just a football game.”

IMG_5439With Lucas piling up 230 yards on 21 carries, Milton Hershey out gained Palmyra 492 total yards to 313 while posting 20 first downs. Rhette gained 114 yards on eight carries.

“They’re going to spread you out and threaten the edge,” said Pope of the Spartans’ offensive approach. “Maybe he (Lucas) had a read, and then he finds a seam. We made some adjustments on it. Our offense was efficient, and then we stalled out at the end.”

Mid-Penn Conference

       IMG_5367Capital Division

 

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Milton Hershey 5-1 7-2
Camp Hill 4-2 7-2
Boiling Springs 4-2 5-4
Steel-High 3-2 4-4
Palmyra 3-3 4-5
Middletown 2-3 4-4
Trinity 2-4 3-6
West Perry 0-6 0-9

 

 IMG_5395 District Three

 Class AAA Power Rankings

 

School W L T Rating TWP OWP
1 Bishop McDevitt 8 0 0 .838183 1.00000 .640407
2 West York 7 1 0 .772479 .916667 .596250
3 Red Land 7 1 0 .767071 .918605 .581864
4 Lampeter Strasburg 6 2 0 .724031 .818182 .608959
5 Gettysburg 7 1 0 .708925 .900000 .475389
IMG_53736 Cocalico 6 2 0 .705508 .818182 .567797
7 Manheim Central 6 2 0 .704785 .822222 .561250
8 Garden Spot 6 2 0 .698198 .804348 .568460
9 Northern Lebanon 7 1 0 .683165 .905405 .411538
10 Solanco 5 3 0 .658160 .715909 .587578
11 Conrad Weiser 5 3 0 .636888 .705128 .553483
12 East Pennsboro 6 2 0 .636671 .800000 .437046
13 Milton Hershey 6 2 0 .629737 .763158 .466667
14 Daniel Boone 5 3 0 .618215 .702381 .515345
15 Donegal 6 2 0 .608654 .750000 .435897
16 Greencastle Antrim 6 2 0 .596721 .785714 .365729
17 Dover 4 4 0 .567953 .564103 .572660
18 Eastern York 5 3 0 .551221 .653846 .425791
19 York Suburban 4 4 0 .549690 .560976 .535897
20 Northeastern 4 4 0 .543755 .588235 .489390
21 Shippensburg 4 4 0 .543139 .558140 .524804
IMG_546122 Lancaster Catholic 3 5 0 .540848 .445946 .656840
23 Middletown 4 4 0 .512838 .550000 .467419
24 Spring Grove 3 5 0 .511969 .471429 .561518
25 Fleetwood 4 4 0 .511932 .500000 .526515
26 Palmyra 4 4 0 .496477 .475000 .522727
27 Muhlenberg 2 6 0 .484023 .289474 .721805
28 Hershey 2 6 0 .480249 .324324 .670823
29 Northern York 3 5 0 .470003 .434211 .513750
30 Mechanicsburg 2 6 0 .464462 .314286 .648010
31 Susquehanna Township 1 7 0 .417084 .166667 .723150
32 Big Spring 2 6 0 .397182 .282051 .537897
33 Eastern Lebanon County 3 5 0 .394156 .357143 .439394
34 Twin Valley 2 6 0 .394000 .250000 .570000
35 James Buchanan 2 6 0 .371478 .250000 .519950
36 Kennard Dale 1 7 0 .313072 .171053 .486650
IMG_534337 New Oxford 0 8 0 .298657 .000000 .663683
38 Susquehannock 0 8 0 .288563 .000000 .641250
39 Kutztown 0 8 0 .267408 .000000 .594241
40 West Perry 0 8 0 .255299 .000000 .567332

 

 

 

 

 

 

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