The Pioneers advances to the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals with a 41-20 win over Palmyra.

The Cougars dropped a 41-20 decision to Lampeter-Strasburg in a Class AAA district opener on Friday night, but not before throwing a scare into the fifth-seeded Pioneers


LAMPETER - A total of 44 teams in four classifications qualified for the District Three football playoffs. Truth be told, and as evidenced by some of the lopsided scores in the opening round, not all of them belonged there.

Though its season is now over courtesy of a first-round district defeat, Palmyra was one of those that did belong.

The Cougars proved that quite nicely on Friday night in a 41-20 loss at Lampeter-Strasburg, a Class AAA opener that was closer and more tightly contested than the final score would indicate.

Losers of three of its last four coming in, after a 6-0 start, 12th-seeded Palmyra gave the L-L Section Two tri-champs and No. 5 seed Pioneers all they could handle for much of the wind-swept contest before yielding one too many big plays to senior wide receiver J.B. Boynton, the last of which was a 52-yard TD catch with 4:20 that finally took the fight out of the feisty Cougars.

Making its return to the district playoffs after a three-season absence, Palmyra left its mark on the postseason even if it didn't leave with a victory.

"I'm really proud of the way we played," said Palmyra coach Chris Pope after breaking an emotional final huddle with his team. "You want to feel like you played your heart out and I feel like those guys did. They gave maximum effort. The object of the season is to get to the playoffs and they did that. They don't have anything to hang their heads about."

En route to bowing out, the Cougars got a pair of TD runs from junior back Alon Rhette, some heroic defensive work from, among others, Noah Davis, Mason Cooper and Wade Kurzinger, who left the game in an ambulance late in the fourth quarter with an undetermined injury. There was no word on Kurzinger's condition late Friday night.

Palmyra perhaps could have left with a different result had it not been for Boynton, who twice broke the Cougars' back with game-changing big plays.

The first came via a 79-yard kickoff return for a score with 1:56 left in the third, and just 23 seconds after Rhette had brought Palmyra to within 19-13 with a 13-yard touchdown scamper.

Then, with 4:12 to go, Boynton came up with the aforementioned TD connection with QB deluxe Bear Shank, a death blow that was preceded by a Rhette one-yard TD plunge with 5:16 left that briefly made it a 26-20 game.

"That's the way it happens sometimes," Pope said. "But the way I look at it is we had an opportunity. We kept ourselves in the game."

And in the end, that made it harder for the Cougars to say goodbye to the season and to each other. Perhaps a blowout loss would have made parting easier, but then again probably not.

"It's always emotional," Pope said, voice cracking, of the Cougars' final on-field moments together. "It's a family. It's a long year and you get close to these guys. It's not so much the loss, it's the end. This is the end of the 2015 football team. There will be another one next year, but this one won't ever be around again. It gets emotional."

Lampeter-Strasburg 41, Palmyra 20

Palmyra_ 0_ 7_ 6_ 7_— _20

L-S_ 0_ 13_ 13_ 15_— _41

First Quarter


Second Quarter

LS - Shank 4 run (Denlinger kick)

P - Gallagher 12 run (Harro kick)

LS - Boynton 12 pass from Shank (kick blocked)

Third Quarter

LS - Groshong 3 run (run failed)

P - Rhette 13 run (kick failed)

LS - Boynton 79 kickoff return (Denlinger kick)

Fourth Quarter

P - Rhette 1 run (Harro kick)

LS -Boynton 52 pass from Shank (Shank run)

LS - Groshong 6 run (Denlinger kick)

._P_ L-S

First downs_ 12 _ 15

Rushes-Yards_ 31-160 _ 42-179

Passing_ 8-26-2 _ 13-24-1

Passing Yards_ 92 _ 169

Total Yards_ 252 _ 348

Punts_ 4-32.3 _ 2-41.5

Fumbles-Lost_ 0-0 _ 2-1

Penalties-Yards_ 2-30 _ 4-40

Rushing — P: Rhette 15-91, Gallagher 6-32, M. Sosnoski 2-28, Yingst 3-7, Reigle 5-2.. L-S: Shank 18-80, Lawler 10-59, Groshong 5-12, Boynton 2-17, Lopez 2-4, Gaudio 5-7.

Passing — P:, Gallagher 7-22-2-81, Yingst 1-4-0-11. LS:, Shank 13-24-1-169

Receiving — P: Robertson 3-45, Harro 2-24, Rhette 1-12, Gallagher 1-11. L-S: Boynton 6-110, Lopez 3-31, Gaudino 1-18, Grau 1-8, Hay 1-2.

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