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A football rivalry between Lebanon County's most eastern and western schools is gaining steam. 

IMG_8060 BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – Sure there’s a lot of football left to be played.

Sure things are never going quite as well as they seem.

Sure it enjoyed a similar string of success last year.

But a fast start has the Palmyra football team in a great position.

IMG_8039On a sticky Friday night at Elco Stadium, the Cougars continued their early season run with what turned out to be a convincing 28-0 road triumph over the host Raiders. Following a defensive struggle of a first half, Palmyra notched all of its points in the second 24 minutes of action.

Three of those touchdowns came in a 6:18 span in the middle of the third quarter. After Palmyra drove the second-half kickoff for the first points of the contest, the Cougars capitalized on a pair of interceptions to complete the burst.

With a bye in its back pocket, Palmyra is now 3-0 overall, with all three wins coming on the road. The Cougars have outscored their opposition by a combined margin of 94-7.

IMG_8144For the Raiders, the result evened their mark at 1-1.

“The key to the whole thing is continuing to get better,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “The teams we played were good. But there’s some heavy hitters coming along the way. Hopefully that bye is going to be to our advantage.

“I think it’s a good start,” Pope continued. “We’ve traditionally had tough games with Elco. I’m not sure where we’re going to be. But I think we’re in a pretty good position.”

“We played hard the whole game,” said Elco head coach Bob Miller. “Not better or worse. They’re (the Cougars) bigger, faster, stronger. They’re rotating guys and we’re not there yet. But they didn’t out hustle us. They didn’t out heart us.

IMG_8291“I’m proud of the way we battled,” added Miller. “I’m excited to see where we’re going.”

After a scoreless first half in which neither side cracked the century mark for total offense, the Cougars got a 53-yard run out of feature back Alon Rhette on the fourth snap of the third quarter, to assume a 7-0 lead. Rhette rushing attempts accounted for all four snaps and all 83 yards of the possession,

“We just needed to do what we do best, which is drive the ball vertically,” said Pope of the halftime address to his troops. “We have some pretty good running backs. They just need a crease. Those guys are dangerous.

“We wanted to run inside the tackles,” Pope added. “We wanted to run Iso. Then we ran the same play again and again. Alon is a good runner. Sooner or later he was going to break one.”

IMG_8083“I didn’t look at the scoreboard,” said Miller. “I didn’t get down. The guys didn’t get down. You can’t ask anything more as a coach.

“Chris (Pope) does a great job,” Miller continued. “They’re (the Cougars) a good program. They played hard. They’re a good team. Their defense was tough.”

Rhette was also responsible for the quarterback pressure that led to the Xavier Vasquez interception that set up Palmyra’s second touchdown. Carl Reigle’s six-yard burst with 6:33 remaining in the third stanza made it a 14-0 Cougar lead.

“I wasn’t quite sure where we were at,” said Pope. “We had a big game at Camp Hill, and West Perry is a good football team. I wasn’t quite sure where we were, and I wasn’t sure about them (the Raiders). It was a good win.



“I’m really happy with the way we responded,” continued Pope. “The other two games we got out (to a lead) in the first half. I wanted to see how we would handle it when things didn’t go our way. I like the way we responded.”

“We talked at practice on Thursday, ‘Are we going to crack under pressure or are we going to bounce back?’,” said Miller. “At practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, we were horrible. But they (his players) came back. They gave everything they had for four quarters. I don’t like the score, but that doesn’t dictate whether or not we were successful.”

IMG_8046Palmyra came up with its second take-away of the third quarter, on the Raiders’ second possession after halftime. Then onn the very next snap, Cougar quarterback Petey Robertston hit Braden Vernet with a 28-yard touchdown toss.

Guests 21, Visitors 0, 3:49 left in the third period.

“We work a lot on stripping the ball,” said Pope. “Those were big turnovers in the third quarter.

IMG_8072“Elco has a good football team,” Pope added. “They gave us a full dose in the first half. They had a lot of guys packed in the box. I was surprised we could move the ball at all.”

“I don’t care what people think,” said Miller of the final score. “I only care about the guys who work together to be a TRIBE.”

Palmyra out gained Elco 207 yards to 27 in the second half, and 305 total yards to 121 overall. Rhette toted the pigskin 11 times for an even 100 rushing yards, while Reigle contributed 94 yards on 12 carries.

“They’ve played really well,” said Pope of his defensive unit. “Really solid. We’ve given up one touchdown, and it was late in the game.”

“Our defense played great,” said Miller. “We flew to the ball. They (the Cougars) didn’t run outside of us. We had great flow. And they (his defensive backs) covered well.”

IMG_8058The Cougars placed an exclamation point on the triumph with 3:54 remaining when Devon Sosnoski took it to the promised land from 11 yards out. Sosnoski’s run resulted from a 58-yard Reigle ramble down the right sidelines.

“I think we executed,” said Pope. “Defensively, in the second quarter, we were starting to hang our heads, and we made a play to bail us out. We got on offense and were able to chew away time. I guess we did play better in the second half.”

“Yeah, we’re coming on,” said Miller. “We had a lot of changes on the front line. We’re starting to adapt. We’re starting to jell. We’re starting to come together.”

Last year in Palmyra, the Cougars defeated the Raiders 30-22.

 

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IMG_8137To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

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IMG_81282016 Palmyra Football Schedule
DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/26 *
@Camp Hill
7:00 PM W 31-0
09/02
@West Perry
7:00 PM W 35-7
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/09
@Elco
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/16
Donegal
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
09/30 *
Boiling Springs
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
10/07 *
@Middletown
7:00 PM Middletown High School
10/14 *
Steel-High
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
10/21 *
@East Pennsboro
7:00 PM East Pennsboro High School
10/28 *
Trinity
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
11/04 *
Milton Hershey
7:00 PM Palmyra High School

 

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IMG_82702016 Elco Football Schedule
DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/02
@Susquenita
7:00 PM W 17-7
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/09
Palmyra
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/16
@Fleetwood
7:00 PM Fleetwood Area High School
09/23 *
Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/30 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM Donegal High School
10/07 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
10/14 *
Columbia
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/21 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/28
@Muhlenberg
7:00 PM Muhlenberg High School
11/04 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School

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