So much for the Panthers’ slow starts of late.

Palmyra blasted off at Monroe City Friday and had 14 points before their hosts got the ball and scored on four of their five first-half possessions en route to a 44-22 district semifinal win.

The victory sets up a Class 2, District 6 title tilt at Kahoka this Friday.

The Panthers looked focused on scoring early and often as they took the opening kickoff and drove down field, scoring eight plays later on a 15-yard pass from Corder Lehenbauer to Cooper Hinkle.

Palmyra failed to score on the two-point conversion, but were soon ready to add more when kicker Zane Meyers caught his own onside kick on the bounce in stride and took it to the Monroe City 44.

Four plays later, Lehenbauer raced around the left side for a 30-yard touchdown run that gave Palmyra a 14-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.

“That was huge,” Lehenbauer said of the quick two-score lead. “I told everybody all week we have to have the energy on our first drive, and if we score, it will be a lot of momentum for us.”

“We just didn’t want to repeat what happened last time,” said running back, Dakota Compton. 

Actually, Monroe City touched the ball on the two-point conversion when Lehenbauer’s pass was tipped into the waiting hands of Abe Haerr in the end zone.

Monroe City responded with their own touchdown on their first possession and trimmed Palmyra’s lead to 14-8. 

But Monroe would end up playing catch-up the entire game after Palmyra came right back with another score when Lehenbauer launched a perfect back-shoulder pass to Haerr down the right sideline for a 30-yard scoring strike to go up 20-8.

See more in this week's Palmyra Spectator.