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 BY JEFF FALK

 PALMYRA – The Palmyra football team is currently seeking its way, figuring out what it’s good at, forging its own identity.

 Do you know what’s good for that? A win.

 On a picture perfect Friday night at Buck Swank Stadium, the Cougars came away with the desired result, a 34-20 non-league triumph over Garden Spot. Palmyra used a pair of second-quarter touchdowns 2:21 apart to establish a 20-0 advantage, before short-circuiting the Spartans’ second-half thoughts of a comeback.

 The Cougars’ effort was spearheaded by senior quarterback Stephen Lyons, who recorded his first career victory by completing 12 of 20 pass attempts for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns, five of those completions and 140 of those yards went to senior receiver Kasey Shughart.

 For Palmyra, it was its first victory of the season, after opening with a couple of road setbacks. Garden Spot, now 0-3, has dropped its last 17 outings dating back to 2017.

 “It’s always nice to get a win,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “Ideally, you’d like the season to build. But you also can’t push the panic button. We needed to get headed in the right direction.

 “I think it’s very important,” Pope continued. “When you continue to lose, it’s like a pressure cooker. Then you get outside influences creeping in.”

  “We obviously didn’t start the way we wanted to,” said Lyons of losses to Hershey and Mechanicsburg. “It’s just great for us and our mentality. It’s important for us to keep our heads up. This will definitely improve our mentality.”

 It was two quick strikes sandwiched around a three-and-out that produced the Cougars’ 20-0 lead, with 8:05 left in first half.

 Making his first varsity start, shifty junior Nick Wallaesa ripped off a 58-yard touchdown jaunt on the fourth snap of the second stanza. Then Lyons and Shughart hooked up for the 53-yard TD that gave Palmyra its three-touchdown lead.

 Palmyra had assumed a 7-0 lead with 40 seconds left in the opening quarter, on a two-yard touchdown flip from Lyons to Nick Morder. That score was set up by an efficient punt return by Shughart.

  “I think one of things that was different this week was the way we approached the beginning of the game,” said Pope. “We were very focused. The demeanor was there before, during and after the game. I guess the demeanor after the game took care of itself.

 “We got some turnovers,” continued Pope. “We did some good things defensively. But we also gave up some big plays. We played better than we did last week.”

  “Our coaches are great at making sure we have level heads,” said Lyons. “We go into every game with same mentality. The mentality is: ‘You’ve got to win every game.’ They pushed us and we responded. There was a better intensity.”

  Just when it appeared that the Cougars might run the Spartans out of the building, Garden Spot struck for two quick touchdowns in the middle of the second period. The first was an 89-yard bomb from quarterback Jesse Martin to receiver Ethan Good.

 Palmyra got one of those scores back 1:32 before the break, when Lyons found Shughart for a 40-yard touchdown completion. But the Spartans pulled to within 27-20 of the lead late in the third quarter, on a 43-yard Jesse Martin-to-Joel Martin collaboration.

 “It can swing on a dime,” said Pope of elusive momentum. “It can cascade and I felt like that was a mini-cascade. The tables turned there a little bit. We were in control, and lost control a little bit. When you’re moving the ball, your offense can control the game.

 “We just wanted to keep on working on the things we talked about, the execution,” added Pope. “People talk about play calling, but you’ve got to execute.”

  “It is absolutely exciting,” said Lyons. “The team played great. The team played together.

 “Our defense played a great game tonight,” added Lyons. “We got turnover after turnover.”

 The Cougar score that sealed the deal occurred with 10:21 remaining. Lyons’ 23-yard touchdown toss to Shughart came on the heels of five straight runs by Wallaesa.

 “They do very well,” said Pope of Lyons and Shughart. “I’m happy for them. Kasey’s one of those athletes you miss when they’re not here. He’s a traditional three-sport athlete – football, basketball and baseball. He’s old school.”

  “Kasey and I have a great friendship,” said Lyons. “There’s a little bit of everything in there. He’s an extraordinary athlete. I know when I throw it up there, Kasey’s going to come down with it.”

  Palmyra out gained Garden Spot 338 total yards to 240. Wallasesa carried 13 times for 137 rushing yards.

  “We were upset about our start,” said Pope. “We prepare, and we want to win every week. But we wanted to have better energy and effort. I think we took a step forward tonight. I’m happy.

 “I know they’ve (the Spartans) had some tough times,” Pope added. “But I think you see that they’re better than they were last year.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2019 Palmyra Football Schedule

Date Opponent Outcomes
8/237:00p
Location: Hershey High School
(L) 32 – 27
8/307:00p
Location: Mechanicsburg High School
(L) 42 – 0

 
     
9/67:00p
 
Location: Palmyra High School
 
9/137:00p
 
Location: East Pennsboro High School
 
9/207:00p
 
Location: Palmyra High School
 
9/277:00p
 
Location: Steelton-Highspire High School
 
     
10/47:00p
Location: Palmyra High School
 
10/117:00p
Location: Milton Hershey High School
 
10/187:00p
Location: Palmyra High School
 
10/257:00p
Location: Palmyra High School
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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