Though not sharp offensively, the Cougars did more than enough to improve to 4-0 and post their third shutout of the season.
PALMYRA - You know you've got something going on as a football team when you win your fourth straight game to open the season, post your third shutout and still leave the distinct impression that you're capable of much better.
Any teams want to have the problems Palmyra has right now?
Despite an inconsistent offensive performance that left head coach Chris Pope wanting much more out of his squad, Palmyra continued its red-hot start to the season on Friday night, blanking Donegal 17-0 in a non-league home opener at Buck Swank Stadium.
En route to improving to 4-0, the Cougars relied on a familiar formula: A few timely big plays on offense and an absolutely smothering defense.
Alon Rhette's four-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter provided the game's first points and was set up by a 65-yard reception by Mason Cooper, and Carl Reigle produced an electric 70-yard TD dash later in the period as Palmyra did all it needed to offensively by halftime against the winless and still scoreless Indians (0-3).
That's because the Cougars were again immovable on defense, allowing only 162 total yards and five first downs while forcing Donegal to punt nine - count 'em, nine - times.
"Anytime you get a win, don't get me wrong, it's good," Pope said. "And I have all the respect in the world for Donegal, Coach (Jeff) Polites is a great coach. But I wasn't really satisfied. I think we could do better. There's a little dissatisfaction with that. We're looking for consistency, consistent play offensively. Not like we are defensively."
That said, Palmyra flashed enough big plays offensively to churn out 364 total yards - 255 on the ground - and effectively control much of the game.
The first big play, as noted, came in the opening minutes of the second quarter, when quarterback Peter Robertson found Cooper with a quick pass and a 65-yard gain and Rhette, who would leave the game with an apparent knee injury late in the fourth, plowed in from four yards out on the ensuing play for a 7-0 lead.
Reigle then broke his 70-yarder on Palmyra's next possession to make it 14-0 with 6:19 left in the half and a mere 38 seconds after Cooper batted away a fourth down pass at the Palmyra 10 to snuff out Donegal's lone promising drive of the night.
"There are some great things, we did some great things tonight," Pope said. "But at the same time, there's a lot of things we need to work on. There on the offensive end, particularly."
The Cougars managed just three points the rest of the way, a Griffin Weidler 33-yard field goal with 7:35 left, but received considerable consolation from their third shutout of the season and an unblemished record heading into their bye week. Palmyra will be back in action on Sept. 30, when it hosts Boiling Springs.
"I told them that, too," Pope said with a laugh, after a reminder that his club is 4-0, after all. "You can't get too upset, really. But you know, you get to be a little bit of a perfectionist, and there's just a little angst that we need to be more consistent and do some things differently offensively. We'll work on it."
Palmyra 17, Donegal 0
Donegal _ 0 _ 0 _ 0 _ 0 _ — _ 0
Palmyra _ 0 _ 14 _ 0 _ 3 _ — _ 17
P — Rhette 4 run (Weidler kick)
P — Reigle 70 run (Weidler kick)
P — Weidler 33 FG
_ Donegal _ Palmyra
First downs _ 5 _ 14
Rushes-yards _ 27-97 _ 40-255
Passing _ 6-15-0 _ 7-12-0
Passing yards _ 65 _ 109
Total yards _162 _ 364
Punts _ 9-35.8 _ 5-27.8
Fumbles-lost _ 0-0 _ 0-0
Penalties-yards _ 2-20 _ 3-20
Rushing — D: Ketner 10-32, Chrysler 7-51, Snyder 5-10, Edwards 3-9, Bistline 2- (-5). P: Rhette 10-107, Reigle 11-97, Robertson 16-53, Sosnoski 2-0, Templin 1- (-2).
Passing — .D: Bistline 6-15-0-65. P: Robertson 7-12-0-109.
Receiving — D: Snyder 2-9, Weaver 1-39, Bear 1-11, Chrysler 1-5, Edwards 1-1. P: Vernet 4-39, Cooper 1-65, Reigle 2-5.