PALMYRA – Only when a supreme effort is put forth can one improve. Only then do losses become somewhat acceptable.
The Palmyra football program has always prided itself on moving forward, and putting its best foot forward.
On a warm Friday Night at Buck Swank Stadium, the Cougars took a mostly lateral move during a 40-6 setback at the hands of rival Hershey. Palmyra was within ten points of the Trojans early in the second quarter, before Hershey tallied the contest’s final 24 points.
With the outcome, Palmyra, which experienced difficulties moving the ball throughout, slipped to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. Hershey moved to 3-0 on the season and 3-0 in the division.
“It’s hard when you don’t feel like you improved,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “I don’t feel the same way I did after the Red Land game (a loss the week before). We may have taken a step back. Tonight, I’m not that happy.
“It’s a little depressing, right at this moment,” continued Pope. “It’s how high school football is. You’ve got to go with the players you have, and we’ve got to get back to work. But I think we are getting experience, when you look at the big picture.”
Hershey scored points the first three times it touched the ball, and the Cougars found themselves trailing 16-0 late in the opening period.
But Cougars cut into the deficit with their only real highlight of the game, junior Anthony Mansfield’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. After fielding the ball, Mansfield hit the Hershey coverage in the middle of the field at full speed, veered right and sprinted down the sideline for the score that made it 16-6.
“I think that was one of the things we tried to focus on,” said Pope, of getting off to a good start. “It was very difficult for us to get into a flow.
“I’d simply say that they played better than us,” added Pope. “We were still in it at halftime. Then we came out and went the opposite direction. Then things began to spiral down.”
All things considered, the Cougar defense performed admirably. Hershey out gained Palmyra 324 total yards to 90.
Trojan quarterback Jackson Bouslough connected with receiver Davey Loyd for three Hershey touchdowns.
“When you’re playing a team like Hershey, you’ve got to get control of the ground game,” said Pope. “They’re an option team. They run the football. That’s what they do. We needed to be able to control that. But honestly, we struggled to maintain consitency on the offensive side of the ball.
“It feels like a setback,” Pope continued. “Tonight, we never really got started. When a team runs the option like they do, it’s hard to duplicate that in practice. In the second half, we didn’t come back out. The guys were in position a few times, and didn’t make the play.”
Hershey added to its 19-6 halftime margin with a couple of Bouslough-to-Loyd touchdowns in the third quarter. The first came from nine yards away, 4:01 into the second half, and the second was from 21 yards out, and made the score 33-6.
“Around halftime, I felt we were still competing,” said Pope. “But we missed a few big plays defensively. I thought we did a pretty decent job of stopping them and giving up only field goals. In the third quarter, we did not drive the ball and we gave up some big plays.”
The Trojans had opened the scoring with a five-yard Galvin Paniagua touchdown run 5:09 into it, and Bouslough’s first TD pass to Loyd 52 seconds later. Joey Corado’s 41-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the opening stanza gave Hershey its 16-0 advantage.
“It’s just different,” said Pope of his team’s return to the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. “They’re all new teams to us. I don’t think it’s any more difficult than the schedule we’ve had, but it’s definitely different.”
|Fri, 9/257:00 PM||H||Hollidaysburg||L 42-21|
|Fri, 10/2 7:00 p.m.||A||Red Land||L 29-21|
|Fri, 10/97:00 PM|
|Fri, 10/167:00 PM||A||Cedar Cliff Away • Conference|
|Fri, 10/237:00 PM||A||Mifflin County Away • Conference|
|Fri, 10/307:00 PM||H||Lower Dauphin Home • Conference|
|Fri, 11/67:00 PM||A||Bishop McDevittAway • Conference|