Running back Fino Cardona put up five touchdowns three rushing, one on a pass and one on a interception return. He ended the game with 253 yards of offense.
Boyd led 26-14 at halftime after two second-quarter touchdowns broke open a game that was tied 14-all at the end of the first quarter.
The ‘Jackets got on the board on the third play of the game when Cardona scampered 61 yards for a touchdown. Palmer answered with a methodical 12-play drive and scored on a keeper by quarterback Judge Wolfe to tie the game. Boyd answered quickly as McDonald hit Cardona on a 33-yard touchdown pass up the middle on a fourth-and-one.
But Palmer had a quick answer, too. On their next drive, Wolfe tossed the ball backwards to Trevor Davenport and he lofted a 52-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open receiver to tie the game.
The second quarter was all Boyd, as Cardona dove in from two yards to cap a five-and-a-half minute drive. On the next series, he wrestled a pass away from a Palmer receiver and streaked 61 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. It was 26-14 after the PAT run attempt was called short.
But in the second half, the game turned around as quickly as the north wind. Palmer’s big, tough runners pounded out a nearly four-minute drive to open the half, with Wolfe scoring on a three-yard sweep. Boyd fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and two Wolfe keepers later Palmer was on top again at 29-26.
Boyd saw a couple of drives end in punts, but their defense held Palmer in check. After a 53-yard wind-aided punt gave Palmer the ball at their own 20, a holding penalty nullified an 18-yard run before Michael Partin picked off another Wolfe pass to put the ‘Jackets in business at the Palmer 22.
The advantage was short-lived, however, as a fumbled exchange gave the Bulldogs the ball back, albeit on their own 13, with 8:26 left to play. They made a couple of first downs before a fourth-and-four pass from the Boyd 42 was dropped by a wide-open receiver and Boyd breathed a sigh of relief and took over on downs.
Two dropped passes and a nine-yard completion put the ‘Jackets just shy of midfield with a fourth-and-one when Cardona swept around the right side and shed tacklers for a 51-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick was no good, but the home team had a 32-29 lead with 3:26 to play.
It was too much time. Palmer’s Aric Garcia went 53 yards off-tackle on his team’s third play and after the PAT kick was blocked, the Bulldogs led again – 35-32 with just 2:35 left on the clock.
A squib kick gave Boyd the ball on their own 38, and a 15-yard facemask penalty put them in Palmer territory with 1:50 left. After a five-yard keeper by McDonald, the ‘Jackets called a timeout, then came back with 1:20 left and did what they’d done all night – they handed the ball to Cardona and he went 35 yards for the clinching touchdown.
McDonald ran a keeper on the extra-point, bounced out twice and finally scampered wide for the final margin.
Big quarterback sacks by Tyler Souder and Chase Graham kept Palmer from rallying on its final possession.
Coach Brandon Hopkins said the hard-fought game could have gone either way, but credited his boys for not giving up when they fell behind again late.
“A lot of other teams would have packed it in when they went behind with just over two minutes left, but we didn’t,” he said. “We knew we had three timeouts left. We took our time, and we just rode Fino down the stretch. He made the plays.”
The outcome left both teams at 1-1 on the young season.
PALMER … 14 … 0 … 15 … 6-35
BOYD … 14 … 12 … 0 … 14-40
Boyd: Fino Cardona 61 run, Nathan McDonald kick.
Palmer: Judge Wolfe 2 run, kick good.
Boyd: Blake McDonald 33 pass to Cardona, Nathan McDonald kick.
Palmer: Davenport 52 pass to Chris Emmons, kick good.
Boyd: Cardona 2 run, kick blocked.
Boyd: Cardona 61 interception return, run failed.
Palmer: Wolfe 3 run, kick good.
Palmer: Wolfe 2 run, run good.
Boyd: Cardona 51 run, kick blocked.
Palmer: Aric Garcia 53 run, kick blocked.
Boyd: Cardona 35 run, Blake McDonald run.
PALMER … BOYD
First downs … 20 … 16
Rushes/yards … 43-275 … 43-333
Passing yards … 85 … 73
Total yards … 360 … 406
C-A-I … 6-10-2 … 7-14-0
Punts/avg … 2-20 … 2-35
Fumbles/lost … 1-0 … 2-2
Penalties/yds … 7-65 … 8-60
Leading rusher: Boyd: Fino Cardona, 22-218; Blake McDonald, 18-95.
Passing: Boyd: Blake McDonald, 7-14-0, 73 yards.
Receiving: Boyd: Cardona, 2-35; Michael Partin, 2-13