Last Friday, Palmer Ridge quarterback Ty Evans completed just 19 of 41 pass attempts in a loss to Pine Creek.
But less than six minutes into the Bears’ home opener against Canon City on Thursday, it was clear the Gatorade Player of the Year was back.
Evans led Palmer Ridge to a 70-35 win over the Tigers,throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for another as the Bears found the end zone ten times in the first half.
“After last week, I was just going to wash it out,” Evans said. “After a game like that, you have to bounce back quick as a team leader, so coming out tonight I wanted to make sure people knew we weren’t thinking about our last game.”
Right out of the gate Evans found momentum with his receivers, making his way down the field going 4 for 5 in Palmer Ridge’s opening drive, ultimately finding Deuce Roberson for a 22-yard touchdown.
“Any time you’re coming off a loss you want to get started as fast as possible and that was our goal tonight,” Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford said.
Less than three minutes and two more touchdown passes later, Palmer Ridge had a comfortable lead.
Then, it was the defense’s turn.
Canon City struggled to gain any offensive momentum with Palmer Ridge pressuring new quarterback Gabe Rall.
Rall ultimately threw a pair of interceptions right into the hands of Dylan Matesi, who returned one for a 30-yard pick six. Charlie Deeds later picked up a fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Finally, Roberson pulled down a 35-yard pick six late in the first half.
“Funny story because last year Dylan dropped an interception so we were all making fun of him a little this week,” Roberson said, “and he came out with his first interception to redeem himself, then he came out with the pick six and we were all going crazy.”
With three defensive touchdowns, the Palmer Ridge defense put up 89 yards on scoring plays alone. The Bears offense had 79 yards on scoring plays.
“Very proud of our defense, they did a great job tonight,” Pulford said. “The turnovers did come out in our advantage but even when that wasn’t the case the defense was playing very good football.”
Although the deficit was daunting, Canon City continued to push. The Tigers scored twice on kickoff returns in the first half thanks to efforts from Raymond Cammel and Connor McCain.
McCain had an 80-yard return and a 63-yard touchdown run, while McCain returned a kickoff for a touchdown and had two short runs into the end zone.
“I think McCain epitomizes Canon City’s culture,” Pulford said. “They have a lot of grit, they work hard, they stay on it. It doesn’t really matter what the score is they keep fighting. Hats off to Canon City and their kids for that. They’re well coached and they fought until the end.”
Palmer Ridge flaunted its young players in the second quarter with sophomore Luke McAllister under center.
McAllister completed a five-yard touchdown to Donavon Carroll as time expired in the first half to round out the Bears’ scoring.
“Luke’s got it. I see a lot of myself in him and he’s doing a lot of good things. I expect a lot from him in the future,” Evans said.