Palmyra-Eagle’s Zach Kiehl runs around a block provided by teammate Brett Knoebel during Friday’s 34-7 loss to Clinton. Knoebel had 69 yards rushing on the game. (Photo by Bob Mischka)

Palmyra-Eagle’s Zach Kiehl runs around a block provided by teammate Brett Knoebel during Friday’s 34-7 loss to Clinton. Knoebel had 69 yards rushing on the game. (Photo by Bob Mischka)

By Marna Diemer

Sports Correspondent

A close game in the first half became a rout in the second half.

Palmyra-Eagle High School’s varsity football team was challenging Clinton for a win Friday, but the Cougars’ second-half scoring led to a 34-7 loss for the Panthers.

P-E’s defense was solid in the first half, keeping Clinton scoreless in the first quarter and allowing only six points in the half. Coach Luke Pedersen said his team started strong on offense, but a stalled drive prevented them from taking an early lead.

“We started the game with another 6-to-7-minute drive and turned it over on downs at the 5-yard-line,” he said. “We just couldn’t punch it in.”

While the offense didn’t get the early score, the P-E defense was steady.

“We were pretty good all game, except for the big plays,” Pedersen said. “Their quarterback made several cutbacks and we missed tackles and over-pursued.”

The Cougars broke the scoreless tie in the second quarter, when Derek Severson ran for a 39-yard touchdown, giving them a 6-0 lead on their first big play of the game.

Though P-E’s defense wasn’t allowing points, its offense wasn’t scoring any either. Despite 16 more carries than Clinton, the Panthers had nearly 100 fewer rushing yards in the game.

“At halftime, we knew we probably should’ve been leading and were definitely still in the game,” Pedersen said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, overall and in the second half.”

The start of the second half was the start of the end for the Panthers, as Clinton’s Randy Popanz returned the third-quarter kickoff for an 81-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion gave the Cougars a 14-0 lead.

The Panthers responded with their lone scoring drive of the game, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Zach Ostermeyer. Brett Knoebel kicked the extra point and the Panthers trailed by seven points with four minutes remaining.

But Severson was the only player to score the rest of the game. Before the close of the third quarter, he had a 75-yard touchdown run that increased the gap to 20-7. In the fourth quarter, he had a 34-yard touchdown run and caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Popanz, along with throwing a 2-point conversion pass, to bring the final score to 34-7.

“The big plays killed us,” Pedersen said. “We did turnover the ball, missed tackles and missed assignments.

“It’s the little things we talk about that need to be done correctly. The good part is, it’s all fixable.”

The Panthers held a slight advantage in passing yards, 59-47 and created the game’s only turnover but the lack of first-quarter scoring and Clinton’s big plays led to P-E’s third loss of the season.

Severson finished with 208 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while completing 2-of-5 pass attempts for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Mason Roscizewski completed seven of his 20 pass attempts for the Panthers and rushed for 47 yards on nine carries. Knoebel had 19 carries for 69 yards. Nate Behr caught five of Roscizewski’s seven completions, for 36 yards.

Friday night, the Panthers travel to winless Parkview, which lost to Big Foot, 49-14. Parkview was held scoreless in the first half, while Big Foot scored all of its 49 points in those two periods.

 

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