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.