It was a rough season opener for the defending Clarence Cannon Conference champions as Palmyra dropped its home opener to Macon 21-0.
“We knew they were a good team coming in,” Palmyra coach Kevin Miles said. “Defensively I thought we played pretty solid. Offensively we just didn’t execute very well.and we put our defense in a hole a lot of the time. ... They (Macon) outexecuted us tonight. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Panthers nearly matched the Tigers in first half yardage as Palmyra gained 66 yards while Macon accumulated 74 yards. But even though Palmyra held Macon to a combined zero yards rushing in the first half, the Tigers were able to take an early 7-0 lead behind a 17 yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
That was the only TD of the first half. Macon added two more scores in the third quarter, one coming through the air and another on the ground.
Austin Harrison finished with both of the Tigers' rushing touchdowns. Harrison had 35 yards on the ground on seven carries.
By the end of the game, Palmya had almost twice as many rushing yards as Macon, piling up 60 yards on the ground to the Tigers’ 36 yards. But, the Panthers were no match for the Tigers’ areial assault.
Macon quarterback Aaron Brown completed 11-of-19 passing attempts for 177 yards and a touchdown while the Panthers’ two quarterbacks combined to throw for 24 yards, completing just four of 14 passes.Brown's touchdown pass was a 36 yard hook up with James Savage. The TD came with 6:38 left in the third quarter and gave Macon a 14-0 lead.
“A couple of those, we had a guy right there and we just didn’t make a play,” Miles said. “That happens sometimes. We play the game to get better. It’s week one, we are not worried, we are going to get better.”
Trevor Wheeler was the Panthers’ leading rusher as he gained 41 yards on the ground on 11 carries.
The biggest problems for Palmyra were turnovers and penalties. The Panthers were flagged 13 times as opposed to just four flags being thrown against Macon.
“We didn’t focus very well on offense,” Miles said. “We just didn’t show up and do much on offense. That is something we will get better at next week. We will figure those things out.”
Palmyra starts the season minus-one in turnover differential as the Panthers lost three fumbles while recovering just one and picking off one Macon pass.
Defensively for Macon, Skyler Thomas had two fumble recoveries and and a sack that was good for a seven yard loss. James Mitchell also recovered a loose ball for the Tigers while Bradley Burkhardt and Jon Murray each had one sack.
Trevor Wheeler had the Panthers’ only fumble recovery when he picked up a loose ball near the end of the first quarter. However, Palmyra was unable to do anything with it and had to punt the ball away following a three and out.
“Trevor Wheeler is a nice player,” Miles said. “He does do well, but we have to get in better shape and that is on me. We weren’t in as good a shape as we should have been. It was hot and humid. It was a horrible night, but I thought Trevor played well.”
Similarly, Mason Franklin picked off a Macon pass near the end of the first half. Palmyra got a first in two plays, but did not advance forward another yard before time expired.
“We played hard for four qaurters,” Miles said. “Not one kid out there gave up. The defense came in and continued to rally and continued to play and those kids will continue to do that.”
Following its win, Macon (1-0, 1-0 CCC) heads home to play Monroe City. The Monroe City Panthers (1-0, 1-0 CCC) beat Clark County 40-22.
Palmyra (0-1, 0-1 CCC) travels to Bowling Green (1-0) next week for a non-conference game with the Bobcats. Bowling Green won its season opener in a route, clobbering Louisiana 47-14.