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Palmyra improved to 2-0 all-time in Week Zero 


PALMYRA – Given that it was its season opener, it was easy to understand how the Palmyra football team might have gotten better as the game wore on. Let’s just say the Cougars progressed just enough, in the nick of  time.

On a glorious Friday night at Buck Swank Stadium, Palmyra opened its 2017 campaign with a thrilling, come-from-behind 24-21 victory over Camp Hill in Week Zero. After trailing 14-0 late in the first half,  Cougar junior quarterback Grant Haus tallied the decisive touchdown with an eight-yard sprint to the right pylon with 38 seconds remaining.

IMG_9546With the game on the line in his first varsity start, Haus dropped back as if to pass, but when the entire right side of the field opened up, he took off and easily beat the Lion defense to the goal line. In moving the ball inside the red zone, Haus had picked up three critical first downs in-a-row – with a six-yard strike to Kasey Shughart and back-to-back scampers of 18 and then 20 yards.

The Cougars’ final-minute drive covered 53 yards in eight plays, and Palmyra overcame two penalties along the way.

IMG_9602“It was the first game,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “A season is a 10-week battle. We always talk about one game doesn’t make a war. But it’s always easier when you get that first win. For our younger guys, it builds confidence.

“We lost some play-makers from last year,” continued Pope. “We had some turnover (in personnel), but I felt like it was manageable. There’s always a little uncertainty. I wasn’t quite sure how we’d do. But I felt if we played well, we’d do OK.”

“It’s crazy,” said an elated Haus. “I can’t explain it. Winning a game like that with the guys I grew up with, it was just crazy. I don’t know what to feel. There’s nothing like it.”

Palmyra was coming off an 8-2 campaign in 2016 in which it just missed qualifying for the PIAA District Three playoffs. Included in that record was a season-opening 31-0 blitzing of the Lions, in Camp Hill.

“Grant was able to make plays,” said Pope. “He’s such a phenomenal athlete. Some of those were supposed to be passes. He was able to keep his wits about him. When it had to happen, we pulled it together.

IMG_9684“We were able to battle back and get the win,” Pope continued. “I think it’s always important when you get in those tough situations, they’re character builders. It shows our team already has character. They fought back. It just strengthens you. That’s one of those intangibles – what you do when it becomes crunch time.”

“It was a pass play,” said Haus of the final score. “It was supposed to go left. But there was a huge hole right, and I took it.

“We never felt out of it,” added Haus. “We never stopped fighting. It wasn’t just me. It was a team of 40 guys.”

Palmyra competed well and made plays, despite falling into that two-touchdown hole. But earlier the Cougars left a handful of points on the field, in the form of a blocked field goal, a blocked extra point and a failure to convert a first-and-goal at the one-yard line into a touchdown.

IMG_9587Down 21-9, the Cougars pulled to within five points of the Lions when Haus took it over from the two-yard line, with 6:26 left in the final quarter. The march, a seven-play, 52-yard job, was highlighted by a 29-yard Devon Sosnoski jaunt.

“We’re really fortunate,” said Pope. “In the end, our offense went down and got that final score. But our defense has got to get some credit too.

“Obviously they (the defenders) played big tonight,” added Pope. “They kind of bent and didn’t break. On the first series, we looked slow. We didn’t have a lot of guys around the ball.”

“I was definitely a little anxious and nervous at the beginning,” said Haus, who finished with 97 rushing yards on 22 carries, and 16-of-24 passing for 121 yards. “But we just kept playing. We definitely struggled with a lot of things. We battled through a lot of things.”

IMG_9739Palmyra took advantage of a Camp Hill fumble early in the third quarter to pull within 14-9, on a 27-yard Griffin Weidler field goal. But it came on the heels of three straight negative plays, after the Cougars had reached the Lions’ one-yard line.

“We have a lot of things we have to work on,” said Pope. “They (the Lions) played great. They should be commended. They came out and played hard. Every team, when they get down to the two-yard line, thinks they should score.”

“I just don’t think we gave up,” said Haus. “We knew we could win the game.”

After going three-and-out on its first four possessions of the season, Palmyra salvaged the first half with a much-needed touchdown 48 seconds before the intermission.

IMG_9577Haus hit Shughart with a six-yard fade to the left corner of the end zone to bring the Cougars to within 14-6 of Camp Hill. The key play in the eight-play, 73-yard drive was a 28-yard hook-up between Haus and Sean Carter.

“I feel like we’ve done a good job of getting enough stuff done, but not tiring ourselves out,” said Pope of Week Zero. “You’ve got to be thinking of it from Day One. I’ve got a good coaching staff. The payoff is later on when we get a bye week.”

“I personally like it,” said Haus. “I just like playing before everyone else does.”

Camp Hill scored on its opening drive, when quarterback Quinn Buffington scored on a 40-yard keeper. The Lions upped their advantage to 14-0 with 3:57 left in the second quarter, on Buffington’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Luke Newman.

IMG_9680But Palmyra held the Lions to just 67 yards of total offense in the pivotal second half. Of the Cougars’ 275 yards of total offense, 164 came on the ground.

















To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

















2017 Palmyra Football Schedule

08/25 *
Camp Hill
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
West Perry
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
7:00 PM Donegal High School
09/29 *
@Boiling Springs
7:00 PM Boiling Springs High School
10/06 *
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
10/13 *
7:30 PM Steel-High High School
10/20 *
East Pennsboro
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
10/27 *
7:00 PM Trinity High School
11/03 *
@Milton Hershey
7:00 PM Milton Hershey School






























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