by Mark Cheffey
The PHS varsity football team opened the season about as well as a team can by administering a 38-0 beat-down of Living Wood Christian in O’Fallon Friday.
The Panthers shocked the Eagles with four second quarter touchdowns and put the game clock into continuous motion with the team’s seventh score at the 8:16 mark of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the defense held the Eagles to just nine rushing yards on 22 attempts and 72 passing yards for just five first downs the entire game.
“I was pleased with how we played. We had a lot of curve balls thrown at us Friday night, and we hit every one,” said Coach Kevin Miles. “That says a lot about our great senior leadership. We came out and did some good things, and I am excited for this group and where they can go if they continue to improve,”
Really, the Panthers only struggle came on extra-point tries where they whiffed, 0-6, four on kicks and two on two-point tries.
Palmyra scored in a myriad of other ways though including by punt, safety and a safety kick return, as well as on the ground and through the air.
Sophomore receiver Hayes Miller scored three touchdowns, on the ground, through the air and on a return, while senior quarterback Brody Lehenbauer threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead the offensive onslaught.
Miller opened the team’s scoring with a two-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
The Panthers then started their second quarter scoring blitz when Lehenbauer hit senior, Peyton Timbrook, for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Lehenbauer added a 16-yard TD run before connecting with Miller for an 88-yard catch and run for a touchdown to put the Panthers up 24-0 with 1:45 left in the half.
That left plenty of time for, yet, another score, and senior Zane Meyers provided it with a 71-yard punt return for a score with six seconds left.
Palmyra made it 32-0 with a safety when the Eagles were caught for a four-yard loss on a running play at the 8:32 mark of the third quarter.
Then, immediately afterward, Miller took the ensuing safety kick at the Palmyra 16 yard line and blew past everyone for the coup-de-gras.
Palmyra piled up 274 total yards on offense including 106 through the air and 168 on the ground.
Wade Begley led the ground attack with 96 yards on 17 carries, while Lehenbauer completed three of eight passes for 107 yards.
Begley also led the defense with 3.5 tackles including two for losses, including the team’s only sack. Adam Goodwin was credited with an interception.
The Eagles highly-touted quarterback, Kaden McMullen, completed just two of five passes for 15 yards before being knocked out of the game in the second quarter.