By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
PALMYRA, Mo. -- Matt Frankenbach recognized the play from seeing it numerous times in practice.
The Clark County football team had no idea Frankenbach paid such close attention.
The Palmyra sophomore defensive linemen sniffed out a screen pass late in the first quarter, sliding out into the flat where he intercepted the pass by Indians quarterback Jayvin Ray and returned it for a 30-yard touchdown.
"I saw the screen," Frankenbach said. "We've been practicing on it a lot of times. I just stayed back and made sure I got it and ran."
His touchdown broke a 7-7 tie with 53.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter and propelled the Panthers, ranked No. 8 in Class 2, to a 52-7 Clarence Cannon Conference victory Friday night at Palmyra Middle School.
Panthers coach Kevin Miles wasn't sure how many times they had practiced snuffing out the screen.
"I couldn't even tell you," Miles said. "A handful. We run a lot of plays and go pretty fast in practice. Try to get a lot of things done and I think we're in pretty good shape. Everything we do in practice is fast paced."
After that play, the Panthers (6-0, 6-0 CCC) scored at a fast and furious pace.
Clark County (4-2, 4-2 CCC) scored first, taking advantage when Palmyra fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. The Indians moved the ball 30 yards in four plays, taking a 7-0 lead when Ray scored on a 14-yard run.
After the Panthers to punt on their next possession, the Indians moved the ball to the Palmyra 26-yard line. The Panthers snuffed out a Ray sneak attempt on fourth and 1 to get the ball back.
"We knew we had to come back and match them," Palmyra's Caleb Kizer said. "We knew if we could stop them we'd get rolling."
Two plays later, Kizer delivered. He broke free for a 71-yard score to tie the game. On the next possession, Frankenbach's interception put Palmyra ahead for good.
"That screen play was one of those things where you have one of those big tall lineman tip the ball up in the air to himself," said Clark County coach Scott Murdock, whose team had 189 yards of total offense. "It was a great play on his part. The play might have worked if we got it off. We're going to learn from this and rebound."
Brock Butler found Jordan Nutt for a 13-yard touchdown pass, the first of two Nutt caught, to put the Panthers ahead 20-7 with 11:09 before the half.
Palmyra defensive back Josh Hultz intercepted Ray on the next possession and returned the 31 yards ball to the Clark County 4-yard line. Hultz, who finished with 59 yards rushing, scored on the next play to put the Panthers ahead 26-7.
"Josh Hultz did a good job of running the ball tonight," said Kizer, who had a game-high 127 yards rushing with two touchdowns. "He kept getting those 5 yards and those first downs to keep the clock rolling, and then we'd break a big play."
Nutt's second touchdown catch put Palmyra ahead 33-7 at halftime.
The Panthers' defense, which forced three turnovers, kept up their intensity in the second half. Frankenbach said it was a simple job.
"I just worked hard past the O-line," said Frankenbach, who added a blocked punt in the second half. "After that, they were there to tackle."