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By Mike Scott
It wasn’t the game many expected to see when the two powerhouse offensives of Clark County and Palmyra faced off on a cool rainy night in Palmyra last Friday. But what a game the fans saw!
Defense ruled the evening, as neither team scored until late in the the third period of the game.
Palmyra won the open coin toss and elected to receive the football.
The Panthers drove deep into Indian territory before back-to-back penalties faced killed their drive, and the Indians took over on downs. But the Indians’ first possession of the night was short-lived, as an Ethan Allen pass was intercepted.
The Panthers drove all the way to the Indian 26, when it looked like Javis Vineyard intercepted a Jonathan Nutt pass in the end zone, but it was ruled interference and the Panthers got the ball just outside the 10-yard line.
Another intercepted pass in the end zone, this time by Allen, ended the Panther threat and gave the Indians the ball again on the 20-yard line.
The Indian drive struggled against a very solid Palmyra defense, and the Indians failed to convert a 4th and one play, and turned the ball over on downs on the 21-yard line.
This time, Clark County got a break, and a Palmyra receiver fumbled after making a catch near the 9 yard line, and the Indians recovered the ball. But the Indians were forced to punt the ball away, and Palmyra got possession of the ball again.
Palmyra completed a pass inside the Indian 10-yard line, then rushed to three yard line before a procedure penalty backed them up five yards as time expired in the first quarter.
The Palmyra completed a second down pass to the two yard line, and then took two attempts to punch it in, but the Indian defense held, and Clark County took over on the two yard line. A carry by Erick Arnold gave the Indians a little breathing room, but Colt Sommers was still forced to punt from his own end zone.
The Panther received fumbled the wet football, and Clark County’s Zach Saavedra recovered the ball on the Indian 42 yard line.
Vineyard moved the ball into Panther territory for the first time of the game, getting to the 35-yard line before penalties and incomplete passes stopped the drive. Sommers’ punt went out-of -bounds at the 15-yard line, and Palmyra started on offense again.
But the Indian defense held its ground again, and Palmyra had to punt, and the ball took a Palmyra bounce, and was downed on the Indian 25 yard line.
Clark County tried again to establish their running attack, but the Panthers were keying on Vineyard, and the possession ended with another Sommers punt.
Palmyra tried to get into the end zone on long passes before the half ended, but were forced to give Clark County another possession.
Vineyard gained a first down near mid-field, but time ran out in the half for the Indians.
Clark County got the ball first in the second half, but Palmyra’s defense swatted away a pass, and the Indians again had to punt.
Clark County’s defense returned the favor, as Palmyra went three-and-out, giving the Indians the ball on the 40-yard line. Allen connected with Matt Morrow on a pass to inside the Panther 10-yard line, but a holding penalty brought ball back.
Vineyard rushed inside the 20 yard line, and an Allen keeper got the ball down to the 16 yard line before a holding penalty moved the ball out the the 30-yard line. The Indians got back to the 15 yard line, but a delay of game call in 4th and five pushed them back yet again, and an Indian pass was incomplete in the end zone, giving the Panthers the ball again on their own 20 yard line.
Another three and out series for the Panthers gave the Indians the ball, but an interception gave Palmyra the ball again, and a pass interference call followed. This time, the Panthers would capitalize on the gifts, with Brock Reed catching a short pass from for the score Nutt. The PAT kick was partially blocked, and Palmyra took a 6-0 lead with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.
The Indians possession ended again with a punt, and Palmyra drove to midfield before the third quarter ended.
The Indian defense ratcheted up the pressure, recovering a fumble to gain possession. The Indians drove into Panther territory before being stopped again, and Summers’ punt went into the end zone.
Palmyra came up field again with a big completion, but a holding call brought the ball back. But another pass interference call on the Indians gave the Panthers the ball on the Clark County 40-yard line with 6 minutes left in the game.
Bryan Plenge intercepted a Nutt long pass to give Clark County possession on their own 11 yard line. Vineyard gave them a little room with a run to the 15, before head coach Matt Smith pulled out the trick plays section of his playbook-a hook and ladder.
Allen completed a short pass the Sommers, who lateralled to Vineyard who was already clear and at full speed, and nobody in Northeast Missouri can catch Vineyard in the clear as he raced some 80 yards for the score. Ryan Roberts point after kick was good, and the Indians owned a narrow 7-6 lead with 4:34 left in the game.
The Big Red fans went wild.
Palmyra felt the momentum change, but still worked their way upfield, and turned the ball ball over on downs, as Morrow pounded the Palmyra received on 4th and 10 to force the incompletion.
The Indians earned a first down on the twenty five, and Vineyard scored again with 1:39 remaining. This time, however, a bad snap prevented the extra point attempt, and the Indians held a 13-6 lead.
Palmyra got the ball again, and they we’re going to give up. Nutt completed a passes out to midfield. With 20 seconds left, a 4th and 10 Palmyra pass completion came up just short of a first down, and the Panthers turned over the ball.
Allen took a knee for the final Indian possession, and Clark County claimed its third consecutive district title with a 13-6 win on the road.
Clark County will host Highland for Senior Night on Friday, and will host the Trenton on Wednesday, November 7.