PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Palmyra football defeated Hallsville 51-16 on Friday to truly commemorate the opening of their new football stadium.

The game was short notice for both teams, as Palmyra and Hallsville's original opponents were forced to cancel on Friday due to issues with COVID-19 on the team. The game was not officially scheduled until 3 p.m., just four hours before kickoff. Palmyra was originally slated to host Macon for its Clarence Cannon Conference opener.

The short notice didn't stunt the vaunted Palmyra defense at all, as the Panthers forced eight Indians turnovers. Junior linebacker Landyn Smith came away with three fumble recoveries and an interception he returned for a touchdown, while senior defensive back Zane Meyers had a fumble recovery and an interception. Defensive lineman Weston King came away with a fumble recovery and Wade Begley ended the game with an interception he returned for a touchdown.

Begley bookended the game with scores, plunged in on a 2-yard run just two minutes into the game to put Palmyra ahead 6-0. The play was set up with a long pass from quarterback Brody Lehenbauer to tight end Quade Plunkett that put Palmyra near the goal line.

Begley added a second rushing touchdown later in the second quarter.

Sophomore Hayes Miller scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter on a 21-yard jet sweep that let him catch the edge, and Ross Arch ran in a 32-yard score to give Palmyra a 27-0 lead at halftime.

The Panthers dipped into their bag of tricks to start the second half by recovering an onside kick for an extra possession, but they couldn't quite score their fifth touchdown.

On Hallsville's first possession of the second half, Smith came away with his third fumble recovery of the night, which set up a Lehenbauer 5-yard rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter to put Palmyra ahead 33-0.

Hallsville finally answered with a couple of quick touchdowns in the third quarter to pull within 17, first on a pass from Indians quarterback Tyger Cobb to Landon Sievers, then with an 11-yard rush from Harrison Fowler.

Defense and rushing helped Palmyra put the game away. Arch scored his second touchdown of the night on a 59-yard run, then, Smith and Begley both came away with interceptions they ran back for touchdowns.

The Panthers will put their undefeated record on the line next Friday when they travel to Brookfield for their first Clarence Cannon Conference match of the year.

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