PALMER – For all of a quarter, offense was at a premium.
Everything else – from the assemblage of penalties, turnovers and ill-fated plays – was standard fare for a zero week outing.
But after a humdrum first quarter Palmer shifted from first to fifth gear and never idled in a 41-0 non-district pasting of Red Oak Life School on Friday night.
“We were a little bit nervous starting out,” said second-year Palmer coach Duke Dalton. “We had penalties, turnovers and after the first series the kids were gassed because of the heat.”
Judge Wolfe, Palmer’s dual-threat quarterback, progressed from the first play to the last, throwing for 115 yards with a touchdown. On the ground, he accounted for two scores.
Wolfe’s numbers would have been loftier, but three lengthy runs – two of which happened in the first quarter – were called back on penalties.
At that point in the contest, not much went right for either 2A program.
“We weren’t ready to go,” Wolfe said. “But coach talked to us and settled us down.
“I was mad (about the penalties that called back the long runs), but we’re a team and you have to support the guys around you.”
Red Oak Life, which is in its second year as a program, was held to 146 yards of total offense, half of what the Bulldogs tallied.
The Mustangs actually reached the red zone before Palmer early on, but the Bulldogs forced a turnover on downs on their own 18-yard line. On Red Oak Life’s next drive, the same thing happened but from 30 yards out.
“Every time we would move the ball a little bit we’d have a penalty,” Red Oak Life coach Mark Larson said. “That’s how things went tonight.”
The Bulldogs’ offense seemingly fed off of their defensive stops as they generated a 70-yard drive capped off by Augie Herrera’s six-yard plunge that made it a 7-0 ball game.
Red Oak Life – which was without four starters because of injury or sickness – was forced into a punting situation before Palmer scored on its next drive. This time it was a 40-yard hookup between Wolfe and Chris Emmons which give the Bulldogs a 14-0 halftime cushion.
Palmer, which had 197 yards on the ground, established its run game with Herrera (87 yards), Wolfe (66 yards) and Jason Burgett (44 yards) but went to the air in a timely fashion.
“In the past, the teams I’ve coached have been primarily running teams,” Dalton said. “I’m trying to be more balanced as a coach because if we get both the passing and running down we’ll be tough to stop.”
Palmer padded its lead in the second half when Wolfe scored on a 13-yard run to make it a 20-0 contest and ran one in from the same distance to start the fourth quarter.
Red Oak Life’s offense showed flashes of brilliance throughout the game, but it was typically negated by a turnover. Quarterback Cooper Spurgin completed three passes for 62 yards on a late drive that got the Mustangs to Palmer’s red zone.
When Spurgin opted to pass again, Herrera made a jump from his linebacker spot, intercepted the ball and returned it 75 yards to pay dirt.
“We’re still young and we still have growing pains left,” Larson said of his club. “We had higher expectations, but once we get some players healthy we’ll have more depth.”
ROLS 0-00-0-00 – 00
Palmer 0-14-6-21 – 41
Palmer – Herrera 6 run (Perez kick)
Palmer – Emmons 40 pass from Wolfe (Perez kick)
Palmer – Wolfe 13 run (kick failed)
Palmer – Wolfe 13 run kick good)
Palmer – Herrera 77 intereption return (Perez kick)
Palmer – Burgett u run (Perez kick)