PALMER — It had been a rough couple of weeks for the Palmer Moose. After back-to-back Railbelt Conference losses in Fairbanks bounced Palmer from postseason contention, the Moose were able to return to the friendly confines of Machetanz Field for one final time during the 2019 season.
And on a rainy night in Palmer, the Moose were able to cap their season on a positive note. Palmer used a pair of Lavar Marshall touchdown runs in the second half to rally for a 20-12 win over rival Wasilla in the annual Potato Bowl Friday night at Palmer High School.
“That was big. We wanted to send the seniors out right,” Palmer head coach Tim Popowski said after the victory.
Marshall rushed for a game-high 146 yards on 30 carries, and the two scores. Of that total, 94 of those yards and both touchdowns came during the final two quarters. Popowski credited his offensive line, the seniors in particular, for paving the way for Marshall and the Moose running game.
“They really did step up,” Popowski said. “That is a very good offensive line.”
Wasilla held a 12-7 advantage at halftime. Marshall gave Palmer the lead with a 6-yard touchdown run with just more than six minutes left in the third quarter. Palmer held the 13-12 advantage until the final minute of the game. The senior broke free for a 30-yard score with 53 seconds left. Catherine Uschmann hit the ensuing extra point to push Palmer’s lead to 20-12.
As Wasilla worked to move the ball downfield during the fourth quarter, the Palmer defense came through with two key interceptions. Senior Dylan Hose picked off a pass that was tipped by fellow senior James Rogers late in the fourth. That helped set up Marshall’s second touchdown of the game.
On Wasilla’s final drive, trailing by eight, the Warriors used two completions to move the ball to the Palmer 24. The big play came on 2nd-and-10 from the 50 when junior Colton Lindquist pulled a tipped ball out of the air for a 26-yard completion. But on the next play, Marshall intercepted a Wasilla pass on the Palmer 5-yard line to seal the win.
“To have Hose and Lavar make those plays for us was big,” Popowski said.
Wasilla junior Byson Malave completed 12 of 29 passes for 150 yards in the loss, despite playing four quarters in a constant downpour.
“He threw the ball really well for how wet it was,” Popowski said.
Malave used his legs and arm to give the Warriors the lead twice during the final half. In the first quarter, Malave scampered for a 10-yard score to give the Warriors the 6-0 lead. Malave struck again on the final play of the first half, hitting Lindquist for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
“We told them it was going to be a dogfight,” Popowski said of the message to his players.
Senior Jayden Christiansen scored a on a 2-yard run in the second quarter to give Palmer a 7-6 lead.
Palmer finishes the 2019 season with a 4-4 overall record. Wasilla dropped to 3-5.
The Moose also added to their advantage in the annual Potato Bowl, which dates back to 1979. Palmer is now 31-10 in the quest for the Mayor’s Cup.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palmer 20, Wasilla 12
Friday, Machetanz Field
Wasilla — Malave 10 run (kick failed) 4:27
Palmer — Christiansen 2 run (Uschmann kick) 0:55
Wasilla — Lindquist 11 pass from Malave (pass failed) 0:00
Palmer — Marshall 6 run (run failed) 6:07
Palmer — Marshall 30 run (Uschmann kick) 0:55
RUSHING — Wasilla: Lindquist 15-4, Malave 6-49; Palmer: Marshall 30-146, Christiansen 9-36, Corbin 4-28, Simmerman 4-4, VanTassel 1-6, Lovejoy 1-0.
PASSING — Wasilla: Malave 12-29-3—150; Palmer: Simmerman 2-7-0—25.
RECEIVING — Wasilla: Ates 3-45, Lindquist 3-40, Behnezar 2-28, L. Devine 2-21, Rodriquez 1-4; Palmer: Christiansen 1-14, Corbin 1-11.