A seven-point Cougar lead in the first quarter turned into a 49-point rally by Red Land on Monday night. The Patriots notched their third division win of the year with a 49-20 victory over Palmyra at Buck Swank Stadium. Red Land outscored Palmyra 42-7 in the first half, and the Cougars (1-6, 0-4 Mid-Penn Keystone) recorded 13 second-half points, all coming in the third quarter.
Running back and track athlete John Ford tallied 189 rushing yards for Red Land, including three first-half touchdowns on 23 attempts. He paced a running attack that included eight different rushers for the Patriots (4-3, 2-2).
"He's a great player," said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. "He has great speed. We need everybody to play their assignment and we need people to pursue to the football. We need to work on playing the edge on defense. A lot of teams have success on the edge against us and we need to get more players pursuing the football."
"He can make some pretty incredible plays," said Red Land head coach Chad Weaver of the senior. "I've said it since he was a sophomore, when he's on your side, it's certainly a luxury to have. It's nice when you can call a running play and all of a sudden he goes 60-70 yards. He's certainly a weapon."
The Patriots registered seven consecutive touchdown scores following Palmyra's first touchdown, a 70-yard pass from quarterback Michael Lewis to Mitchell Cooper on their third drive of the game. Lewis threw for 247 yards on the night, including two touchdown passes, both of them to the junior wideout. Cooper notched nine receptions for 179 yards.
"I thought we came out a little sluggish," said Red Land head coach Chad Weaver. "It's one of those Monday afternoon games, just not quite used to it. A day off of school, it took a little while. Once we started going I was pretty happy with the way we performed."
Cornerback Ethan Harro had a solid all-around game for the Cougars, collecting three catches for 27 yards at the wide receiver position and an interception in the first half. He also made a key defensive play in the first half, knocking the ball away from a Patriots wide receiver in the Cougar end zone.
"I thought he did a good job," said Pope of Harro, a sophomore wide receiver and defensive back. "I thought he really stepped up."
"There were times where people did execute and did great things. Mitchell (Cooper) had a big play at the very beginning of the game with that catch and nice run. There were other good things that occurred so it was nice to say that."
Red Land junior quarterback Garrett Scott went 15-for-31 passing, including two touchdowns and one interception. Patriots backup quarterback Tristian Lauck was substituted in for Scott late in the second half and completed one pass for eight yards in the fourth quarter.
"The past two weeks he's really stepped his game up," Weaver said of Scott. "I'm really happy with the way his reads are and other than throwing that interception, I thought all his other throws we're pretty good. He had one that probably should have been a touchdown, but the receiver got stumbled up. I'm happy with the way he's playing."
Palmyra plays Friday night with a home matchup against Mechanicsburg.
"We have to get better at the fundamentals," said Chris Pope. "We have to execute at certain points of the game. Certain times we didn't tackle somebody and at certain times we didn't catch the ball. We didn't run when and where we needed to and we didn't get a push off the ball. You have to execute all four quarters."
With around 40 players on their roster, close to the entire Cougars young squad gets a chance to play. Freshmen Alon Rhette, Carl Reigle and Mason Cooper all earned significant playing time for the orange and black Friday night.
"Only about six guys don't play junior varsity on a weekly basis," Pope said on the mindset of a short week. "Most guys are used to coming out on a Monday and playing a junior varsity game. The varsity game is a little more physical, so guys are going to get a little more banged up."
"We're going to take care of that and that's all part of football. We're going to work hard and get ready for Mechanicsburg. We have three weeks left and when you start something, you have to finish it and that's what we're going to do."