Palmyra quarterback Brock Butler almost single handedly ruined Mark Twain’s homecoming Friday night as the Palmyra football team beat the Tigers 36-6.
“We got our focus back tonight and played well,” Palmyra coach Kevin Miles said. “Mark Twain does a great job and they are a great team, They played hard and played physical and for us to do that and to come out and execute, I am pretty proud of the boys and how hard they played.”
“This win was big,” Butler said. “We knew it was their homecoming and they would be ready. We had to get ready and we had a good week of practice. We knew they would be pumped up and ready to play so we had to, too and I think we had the advantage.”
Mark Twain took the kickoff to start the game and needed 12 plays to move the ball to the Palmyra 27 yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Palmyra followed with a 9-play drive that ended in a punt. On the Tigers’ next drive, Mark Twain fumbled the ball on the second play with the Panthers recovering it. Four plays later the Panthers were on the board.
“We really wanted to score on the first drive,” Butler said. “But the defense stepped up and got a big fumble and then we put it in the end zone.”
Mark Twain coach Matt Hudson said his team’s lost fumble was a momentum changer.
“The turnover was big,” Hudson said. “It was a momentum killer. You look at any game from the NFL to junior high and turnovers are huge and this one played a big part in it tonight.”
Butler put Palmyra (4-4, 4-4 CCC) on the board with 1:03 left in the first quarter when he connected with Bobby Gruenloh for a 20 yard strike.
Palmyra went three-and-out on its next drive, but after forcing Mark Twain to punt, the Panthers scored again on a 12-play drive that covered 86 yards. Once again Butler connected with Gruenloh for the score, this time on a 17 yard pass with 1:47 left in the first half.
Palmyra used one of its time-outs and forced Mark Twain to turn the ball over on downs at the Tigers 40 yard line.
Two plays later, Palmyra had 22-0 a lead as Butler completed a 30 yard pass to Caleb Kizer with no time remaining on the clock.
“We were hollering where we wanted him to throw it, but I think (Butler) had already made up his mind,” Miles said. “We got the match up we wanted where it was speed on a kid we knew that couldn’t keep up and (Kizer) made a great play and (Butler) made a great throw. It was just pretty sweet.”
Page 2 of 2 - Butler finished the night 6-of-7 with 133 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“It was about time I did it,” Butler said. “I have struggled the past few weeks in passing and tonight Bobby (Gruenloh) told me to keep throwing it to him so I did and he put it in the end zone.”
Mile was pleased with his QB’s performance.
“That is phenomenal,” Miles said. “But some of the catches were some good catches. He put them in places where only the receiver could catch them.”
Palmyra opened the second half with the ball and scored again on a 5 yard run from Butler to cap a 9-play, 55 yard drive. Palmyra scored again on its next possession, capping a 10-play, 53 yard drive with an 11 yard rushing score from Alec Bland.
“It was good,” Butler said of scoring on the ground. “Dilan (Parrish) put me in a position to let me score. He ran trap like a champ.”
Bland totaled 56 yards on the ground on 11 carries while Dilan Parrish had 12 carries for 88 yards.
Gruenloh finished the night with three catches, 54 yards, and two TDs while Kizer had two catches for 40 yards and one TD. Ben Altoff and Kevin Bross both caught one pass each. Altoff’s was for 32 yards while Bross’s went for 7 yards.
“When we called their number to throw, they ran good routes” Miles said, “(Butler) had time to throw and that is a testament to the o-line.”
With both teams junior varsity now in the game, Mark Twain (2-6, 2-6 CCC) moved the ball 50 on Palmyra and got the ball inside Palmyra’s 15 yard line, but once again turned it over on downs.
“We didn’t execute as well as I would have liked,” Mark Twain coach Matt Hudson said. “At times we were fine and at other times it seamed like we let them do whatever they wanted.” The Tigers finally scored on their final drive when Tyler Elledge found the end zone with 0:09 left on the clock.
“It was good for the young guys to get in and get a boost to their confidence,” Hudson said. “We have a nice JV season going on and these guys moved the ball against their JV. It was nice to put it in.”
Tyler Steinkamp finished the night with 105 yards on the ground on 24 carries to lead Mark Twain’s ground game. Elledge finished with 72 yards on 9 carries including the Tigers only touchdown of the game.