Northern York of the Colonial Division hosted Palmyra of the Keystone on a warm evening in what would prove to be a lopsided engagement, a 45-0 rout that sends the two teams in different directions.
Winning the coin toss, Northern set the tone early by going against typical first-game protocol and electing to receive the opening kick. Richard Settle returned a short kick to midfield.
Sixteen seconds later on a halfback-option pass, Bobby Shelly hit Colton Baxter on a 54-yard scoring strike, sending the Northern faithful into a frenzy. They would celebrate for most of the night.
After exchanging several punts, Northern was on the move, this time was a mixture of run and pass. Senior fullback Richard Settle capped off the nine-play drive with a bruising four-yard run.
Northern was up 14-0 with 2:00 still remaining in the first period, and it wasn't finished. Recovering a Palmyra fumble, Northern worked quickly again. Quarterback Justin Markle led their third scoring drive with junior running back Sam Geiser tasting the end zone on a nifty 15-yard run.
Geiser and Settle were a solid 1-2 punch, combining for 210 rushing yards at the intermission.
"The line blocked great, and we poured through there," Geiser reflected. "We're taught to run north and south, and that's what we did."
Utilizing a hybrid, spread attack featuring elements of several offensive systems, the Polar Bears dominated any point of attack, keeping Palmyra on its heels.
A Markle one-yard quarterback keeper and a booming 32-yard field goal by Aiden Alves closed the first half scoring at 31-0 Northern.
The 2012 Cougars struggled mightily in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division, posting a disappointing 0-10 record. Suiting only 36 players for Friday's game, head coach Chris Pope's squad were beaten badly in all three phases.
Junior quarterback Michael Lewis could not get the Cougar offense on track. Facing persistent pressure from a physical Northern defensive unit, Lewis was sacked three times and hurried all night.
Junior wideout and return man Mitchell Cooper was held to three catches for 12 yards, while the Cougars managed only three first downs for the entire contest and only once crossed into Polar Bear territory.
The second half saw more of the same. Late in the third period, Northern's Colton Baxter fielded a Palmyra punt at midfield. Changing his direction, Baxter followed several crushing peel-back blocks, stepping out at Palmyra's 16-yard line.
Five plays later, Geiser found paydirt from seven yards out. Following yet another Alves conversion, Northern was comfortably ahead 38-0.
Terelle Hickes cemented Northern's win with a 38-yard scoring burst straight through the Palmyra defense with afterburners to spare. And the final count was 45-0 Northern.
From the opening whistle, though, Palmyra had a slight advantage. Northern starting quarterback, senior Luke Lynes, was sidelined with a dislocated left kneecap suffered in a preseason scrimmage.
Polar Bear head coach Garrett Mowery adjusted with sophomore Justin Markle, and he proved up to the task. Completing 8 of 22 passes for 113 yards and one interception, along with several drops, the sophomore added 26 rushing yards and a score.
The Cougars had no answer to the Polar Bears' balanced attack, allowing a remarkable 462 total yards and 17 first downs.
Obviously, Mowery was pleased with his team's initial performance.
"We did everything we wanted to do tonight," he said. "We worked all summer at spreading it out and mix the run with the pass."
Northern's defense dissected any Palmyra threat with only a base package and few blitzes, forcing four fumbles (two of which were recovered) and one interception.
For Palmyra, a team lacking size and physical play, there is much work to be done and room to grow. But 24 yards of total offense equates to another long season if they cannot find answers soon.
NORTHERN YORK 45, PALMYRA 0
Palmyra 0-0-0-0 - 0
Northern York 14-17-7-7 - 45
NY - Colton Baxter 54 pass from Bobby Shelly (Aiden Alves kick)
NY - Richard Settle 4 yard run (Alves kick)
NY - Sam Geiser 15 run (Alves kick)
NY - Justin Markle 1 run (Alves kick)
NY - Alves 32 FG
NY - Sam Geiser 7 run (Alves kick)
NY - Terelle Hickes 38 run (Alves kick)
P - NY
First downs 3 - 17
Rushes-yards 19-(-4) - 44-321
Passing 8-18-1 - 9-23-1
Passing yards 28 - 167
Total yards 24 - 362
Punts 7-31 - 1-33
Fumbles-lost 4-2 - 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-30 - 3-25
Rushing: P - Anthony Faiola 1-0, Austin Combs 5-14, Alon Rhette 5-4, Michael Lewis 5-(minus-28), Carl Reigle 3-6; NY - Justin Markle 8-26, Rischard Settle 10-103, Sam Geiser 19-133, Terelle Hickes 3-41, Mike Kearney 3-13, Jordyn Rider 1-5
Passing: P - Michael Lewis 8-18-0-1, 28 yards; NY - Justin Markle 8-22-0-1, 113 yards; Bobby Shelly 1-1-1, 54 yards
Receiving: P - Ethan Harro 4-13, Tyler Gallagher 1-3, Mitchell Cooper 3-12; NY - Terelle Hickes 3-25, Colton Baxter 2-74, Bobby Shelly 2-31, Jeremy Taylor 2-37