When Cocalico coach Dave Gingrich looked at the scoreboard following his team’s home game against Solanco, he almost couldn’t believe what he read.
But the numbers didn’t lie. They represented exactly what had taken place on the field. The Eagles were just that good — in all facets — Friday night.
Defensively, Cocalico held the dangerous Golden Mules in check.
Offensively, the Eagles scored on their first six possessions and marched to an emphatic 42-7 victory.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said Gingrich. “Absolutely, that’s a very, very good team over there. They scare me more than a lot of teams just because they do what we do and we do what they do. They are big, strong and physical. We were all worried this week.”
The Eagles improved to 4-1 in Section Two and 7-2 overall after piling up 405 yards rushing, with junior quarterback Noah Palm romping for 153 yards and four touchdowns.
Cocalico’s defense held Solanco to only 180 yards on the ground, with 78 of those coming on the Mules’ final drive that led to their only score of the game.
“Physically, that was one of the best defensive games I’ve seen us play in a long, long time,” Gingrich said. “We were really, really physical and disciplined. Those were the two things we needed to be and we did both.”
Of course, a quick start was huge as it took Cocalico only three plays and 32 seconds to get on the scoreboard.
Garrett Longenecker (131 yards rushing) took the first snap from scrimmage 45 yards and on the next play, Palm hit Ronald Zahm on a 27-yard pass. Longenecker capped the drive with a 1-yard run.
“That was very big. It’s a big confidence-booster in anything you do,” Palm said. “You are up 7-0, it was a great boost and to know you can keep going.”
Solanco (2-3, 6-3) responded, gaining 11 yards on two consecutive plays. However, Eagles senior Austin Landers stepped in front of a Joel McGuire pass and returned it 75 yards.
Although Landers’ apparent touchdown return was called back on a penalty, seven plays later, Palm ran in from 26 yards out for his first score.
The Mules drove downfield on their next series, but were stopped on the Eagles’ 9-yard line. It took seven plays for Cocalico to go 91 yards. despite Longenecker losing a 76-yard touchdown to a penalty.
Palm opened the second quarter by hitting Zahm with a 30-yard touchdown pass. Palm added a 2-yard touchdown run on the next possession and capped the next two drives with runs of 50 and 38 yards for scores.
Even with those gaudy numbers, Palm credited the defense, which he is a big part of.
“Coaches prepared us well with our reads and what to look for,” he said. “You can’t be afraid to hit anyone. It’s a physical game. You have to be able to fly downhill to make some plays.”
“Hats off to everyone. It was our most complete game. We did so many good things,” said Gingrich.
Nafis Moore finished with 125 yards and the Mules’ only touchdown. Cocalico held McGuire, one of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s best rushers, to only 18 yards on the ground.
Up next: Cocalico heads to Lampeter-Strasburg for the regular-season finale, while Solanco will be at Manheim Central.