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Palisades thwarted in final seconds


For the Palisades Pirates, it will be a matter of steady progression.

Gone are the days of rapid progression that fueled a previous three–year run that resulted in a district championship and an overall 29-8 mark during the span.

Here is a budding team that has the potential to blossom into a late fall harvest.

Despite a last minute 15-12 loss at Wilson last week, the Pirates (0-2) made strides from a lopsided 47-6 defeat the previous week to Palmerton.

Wilson (1-1) scored the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

“We were much improved from last week,” said Pirates first-year head coach Ramie Moussa. “We’re beating them for three quarters, but we made some mistakes that cost us.

“It was heartbreaking and we’re a young football team. It took a toll on the young guys late in the game, but we’re not using that as an excuse.”

Moussa noted the failure to convert a fourth-and-one on their own 38 having a 12-7 lead with 1:40 left on the clock as a key turning point late in the game.

“We didn’t want to punt and our defense was playing well,” he said. “They got two big passing plays and then had to convert a fourth-and-two. They ran a play off the end to their fullback who got into the end zone.”

Palisades took a 6-0 lead on Mason Smeland’s eight-yard score in the second quarter and boosted its lead to 9-0 at halftime with the first of Zach Shoemaker’s two 23-yard field goals. Smeland rushed for a game-high 67 yards on 23 carries.

Shoemaker’s second field goal in the third quarter helped the Pirates to a 12-0 advantage at the beginning of the final quarter.

Quarterback Matt Santos, who took over in the second quarter last week, rushed for 32 yards and also completed 6 of 13 passes for 93 yards. In his debut the previous week, Santos was 3-for-8 for 55 yards.

“Matt played great,” said Moussa about his sophomore quarterback. “He had better control of the game and improved from the first game. He did a lot of good things.”

Santos, who transferred from Oklahoma a year ago, felt more comfortable in his second start.

“This week was a lot easier,” said Santos. “I was able to make more reads and everyone calmed down a little. It was a big leap from the JV team.

“Our fast start helped us a lot. We definitely made some progress and we’re looking forward to this week.”

The Pirates return home Friday night and host Northwestern Lehigh (1-1), considered to be one of the favorites in the Colonial League behind four-year starting quarterback and University of Delaware recruit Deven Bollinger, who threw for 163 yards and five touchdowns in its win last week.

“We know what’s coming from them,” said Moussa on Northwestern. “They are a very well coached team, and they can also run the ball. It will be a big challenge for us.”