By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
11/13/21 * 4:15 PM
(PALMER) - The Palmer HS Panthers hosted the Oxford HS Pirates yesterday in the MIAA Division 8 🏈 Playoffs. Last week, Palmer beat Brighton 45-18; Oxford beat Quaboag 28-14. Each team was looking for a win to get closer to the State Championship.
Hampden County got about 15 hours of rain from 1 AM Friday to 4 PM Friday. Legion Field was very wet. That would impact the game, especially for Palmer. There were multiple bad snaps and bobbled shotgun snaps.
The game got off to a slow start. Both teams punted on their opening possessions. Oxford punted on their 2nd possession of the game. Neither team could put enough plays together to get first downs.
I have noticed this year, HS teams “go for it” a lot on 4th down. Even in 4th & “long” situations, HS teams line up and attempt to get first downs.
In the 2nd quarter Palmer’s offense finally got the spark they needed, on defense. The Panthers were able to stop the Pirates in the red-zone. Oxford went for a first down on 4th and they were stopped by Palmer.
On the next series, Palmer QB Jack Letendre hit RB Chance Lee over the middle for a short pass that Lee took to the end-zone. The Panthers made the EP and led 7-0.
(Jack Letendre to Chance Lee for a long TD pass)
Oxford responded on their following possession. Oxford QB Lucas Lambert connected with Connor Fantasia in the end-zone for their first score. The Pirates went for two. Lambert hit Brett Morgan in the back of the end-zone for the two points. Oxford led 8-7.
(Lucas Lambert TD pass to Connor Fantasia)
(Lambert to Brett Morgan for 2-point conversion)
Palmer tried to score before half but they didn’t have enough time. Oxford led at halftime 8-7.
The third quarter opened with Palmer receiving the kickoff. They couldn’t capitalize and had to punt the 🏈 away. Oxford also had offensive trouble in the 3rd quarter.
The Pirates were stopped for a second time in the red-zone on 4th down. The Panthers defense, despite the loss, played very well on Friday night.
Palmer’s offense couldn’t score and Oxford got the ball back as the game moved in to the 4th quarter.
In the 4th, Oxford was in red-zone again. This time they scored. Lambert threw his second TD pass of the game, this time to
Jordan Deleon. The Pirates went for two again. Lambert hit Morgan, again. Oxford led 16-7.
(Lambert to Deleon for a TD)
(Lambert to Morgan for 2-point conversion)
Palmer still couldn’t get consistent plays on offense. They were forced to punt again. Oxford got the ball back and marched down the field. In the red-zone, Lambert got the snap and threw an INT caught by Letendre. Letendre ran down the field but was caught from behind by an Oxford player. The ball came out as Letendre was going down. I wasn’t close enough to see if Letendre got stripped or if he was down and then the ball came loose. The officials ruled that Letendre fumbled. Palmer’s championship hopes were fleeting.
On the next play, Oxford fumbled and Palmer got the 🏈 back.
The Panthers had good field position and scored on an Xavier Nava run to the 🏡. Palmer went for two but the snap was fumbled and Oxford got a TFL on the play. Oxford led 16-13.
(Xavier Nava run TD)
Palmer’s only hope to move on in the Playoffs was to get an onside-kick. The kicker made his best attempt but the kick was caught cleanly by an Oxford special teams player.
The Pirates kneeled the ball in “victory formation” twice.
Time expired and the Pirates beat the Panthers 16-13.
Oxford advances to the semifinals of the MIAA Division 8 Playoffs. Oxford plays Randolph next week.
Lucas Lambert - 2 pass TDs
Connor Fantasia - 1 rec TD
Jordan Deleon - 1 rec TD
Jack Letendre - 1 pass TD
Chance Lee - 1 rec TD
Xavier Nava - 1 run TD
Congratulations to Palmer HS 🏈 on a great season. Also, salute to the fans in Palmer that encouraged their team all night.