Palmer tops Mohawk, 36-8

For The Recorder
Friday, October 27, 2017

PALMER — It was a long ride home for the Warriors.

The Mohawk Trail Regional High School football team went on the road to take on Palmer High School in a Tri-County League match-up Friday night, and the Warriors fell to the Panthers, 36-8, in what was a very frustrating contest for the Mohawk squad.

“I'm baffled,” said Mohawk head coach Doug McCloud. “I have no idea where my team was for most of the night.”

McCloud's frustration was understandable, as the Warriors (3-5, 3-3 TCL) could only manage 31 first-half yards, and looked absolutely overmatched by a fired-up Palmer squad that was playing for its postseason life and never took its foot off the gas.

Mohawk got the ball first, and its problems started quickly. The Warriors gained only five yards on three plays and were forced to punt. Palmer took over at its own 35-yard-line after the kick, and then it was the Tyler Placanico show.

Placanico, a sophomore running back, was not only featured on the drive, he was the drive, carrying the ball six times for all 65 yards of the march. Nineteen of those yards came on the drive's final play, a sweep to the left that put Palmer up, 6-0, with 6:05 left in the first. The two-point try failed, and the score would stay there, at least for a while.

Mohawk then went three-and-out again, this time only gaining a yard on the possession. Palmer did not let up when it got the ball back, and went on its longest sustained drive of the night. 

Starting on its own 23, the Panthers drove 77 yards on 15 plays spanning the last three minutes of the first frame into the first 4:39 of the second. Palmer quarterback Jeff Pardo was 3-3 for 37 yards on the drive, which ended with a two-yard touchdown plunge by senior Kyle Mastalerz. The two-pointer would again fail, and after scoreless possessions by both teams, it was a 12-0 Palmer advantage at the half.

Things only got worse for the Warriors in the third stanza. After the teams traded fumbles on their opening second half possessions, the Panthers struck again. Placanico ended a nine-play, 53-yard scoring drive with a 16-yard sweep to the right for his second score of the night. Joe Lombardi then crashed up the middle for the extra two points, and it was 20-0. 

With Mohawk finally moving the ball on its next drive, the third ended with even more frustration. On the final play, a first-and-10 at midfield, Palmer's Riley Williams, who was a force for the Panthers defense all night long, dropped quarterback Shawn Davenport for a 9-yard loss. Three plays later, on fourth-and-nine, Davenport was sacked again, handing the ball back to Palmer at the Mohawk 42.

The Panthers (6-2, 5-1) pounced quickly, and on the fourth play of the possession, Pardo found tight end Dylan Tenczar with a 29-yard touchdown strike. Lombardi again blasted it in for two, and it was 28-0 with 7:33 left on the clock.

Mohawk got on the board on its next drive, an 88-yard march that featured one of the Warriors few bright spots, running back Seth Hoynoski. Hoynoski, who joined the team late after starting the season running cross-country, carried the ball six times for 67 yards on the possession, the final six straight up the middle for the touchdown. He then took the ball in for two on the conversion, and it was 28-8 with 3:02 to play. 

Placanico put the exclamation point on the night for Palmer, as he returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for the touchdown. Lombardi again added the extra two for a 36-8 lead, which would end up being the final. 

Hoynoski — who also tallied two sacks of Pardo on defense — rushed for a total of 91 yards on the night, and Jordan Grenier added 65 more, 64 of those coming in the second half.