Avenging the Palmyra football team's Week 1 loss, quarterback Brock Malone took matters into his own hands Friday night, scoring three rushing touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 49-0 rout of the Bowling Green Bobcats.
Avenging the Palmyra football team’s Week 1 loss, quarterback Brock Malone took matters into his own hands Friday night, scoring three rushing touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 49-0 rout of the Bowling Green Bobcats.
The first score, which came on the Panthers’ initial play from scrimmage, was a 46-yard scamper down the right sideline that set the tone for the rest of the contest.
The success all started with the push from the big boys up front, Malone said.
“My line blocked to perfection,” Malone said. “When you see green grass, I have one job — run. I didn’t get touched on all three touchdowns, I believe.”
For Palmyra, the victory put last Friday night’s struggles into the rear-view mirror. The season-opening loss only added fuel to the fuel, coach Kevin Miles said, which made Bowling Green in for a long evening.
Once again, the Palmyra defense came strong out of the gate, forcing two three & outs before Bowling Green registered a first down. On Bowling Green’s third possession, which started at the Palmyra 26-yard line following a muffed punt, the Bobcats were knocking on the door.
On a fourth & goal from the 3-yard line, though, the Panthers slammed it shut.
That’s when the Palmyra attack really got started.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Malone again ran a QB keeper, this time for 85 yards for a touchdown.
He ran around the right outside edge and cut back across the middle of the field, with blockers alongside him all the way. By that point, the score was 14-0 in favor of the visiting Panthers.
The Palmyra defensive unit, which allowed 42 total yards of offense the whole game and only five yards rushing, was lights out from start to finish. Helping to hold Bowling Green to five first downs, Peyton Plunkett led the team with 9.5 tackles, including two for loss, and Trenton Manning picked up a key endzone interception.
It was all-state standout Daniel Lehenbauer, though, who came up with the play of the night. With 9:39 remaining until halftime, Lehenbauer locked eyes with the Bobcats’ quarterback and perfectly read a screen pass, coming up with a pick six to give the Panthers’ a three-touchdown advantage.
“I was watching his eyes, and he looked at me and threw it right at me,” Lehenbauer said. “So I just ran it in.”
After a 14-yard touchdown run for Manning, the halftime score was 28-0 Palmyra.
The score differential only expanded in the second half, thanks to rushing touchdowns from Malone, Brady Barnett and Jacob Kroeger.
The Week 2 win was a big step in the right direction for Palmyra, especially for the offensive unit full of fresh faces who are adapting to the top level of play.
The Panthers collected 336 total yards of offense, averaging eight yards per play. Every single yard came on the ground, with Malone leading the way with 11 rushes for 114 yards. Out of the backfield, Plunkett contributed 78 yards on nine carries.
The biggest improvement, Miles said, was how the offense held onto the ball. Last week, the Panthers fumbled seven times. On Friday night, that happened only once.
“We had huge first game jitters,” Malone said. “It was the first time we had been starting varsity offense. Obviously, teams are going to play us the best every single game, and coming into this week, we knew we had to clean up the veer offense. That’s what we ran all day.
“Hopefully, we just snowball from here. It’s a good feeling — a lot better than last Friday.”
Lehenbauer said the victory is a confidence booster going into a tough Week 3 matchup against Highland.
“We’ll be ready for the bigger games coming up,” he said. “We just said, ‘that’s not going to happen no more,’ and we started playing downhill, hitting much harder, running a lot harder, working a lot harder, just to get better. We blocked a whole lot better this week. We came out with a whole lot more fire.”
Miles said he was proud of the way his squad battled back and didn’t let last week’s disappointment impede what happened Friday night.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “One week is not going to define our season. We’ve got to move on, and we’re pretty good at doing that. That’s what we did.”