Kilgore Begins Playoffs With 29-13 Defeat of Navasota
LUFKIN -- Running into Navasota a year or so ago might have meant a lot more of a challenge for the Kilgore Bulldogs.
But this year's Rattlers were overmatched by Kilgore from the beginning at Abe Martin Stadium, falling 29-13 to a Kilgore team that jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
Kilgore (7-4) moved on to the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs, and will face the winner of Stafford (9-1) and Worthing (5-5), a pair of Houston-area schools, who play Friday.
Kilgore senior tailback Melek Hamilton ran for 155 yards and a score on 30 carries, and caught pass for a score. Quarterback Patrick Jackson completed 8 of 14 passes for 92 yards and the score to Hamilton. Deiontrae Wheat and Jamal Nobles each ran for a touchdown, and Elivan Torres had a 33-yard field goal.
Kilgore's defense had one of its best performances of the year, holding Navasota (2-9) to less than 200 total yards.
Kilgore's first possession took the Bulldogs all the way to the Navasota 1-yard-line, but a personal foul after a second-down play backed Kilgore up to the 15. Jackson's third-down pass was incomplete, but Torres hit the 33-yarder and gave his team the 3-0 lead with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.
The Rattlers had problems moving the ball all night, and quarterback Jeb Malek was picked off on his second possession by Kilgore senior defensive back A.J. Henson, who returned the pick 36 yards to Navasota's 24.
Kilgore put the ball into the end zone three plays later on a 17-yard run by Wheat. Torres tacked on the extra point and with 1:04 remaining in the quarter, Kilgore led 10-0.
The Rattlers got nothing out of their next two possessions, and finally tried a fake punt near midfield on fourth-and-7. That, too, failed, and left Kilgore in good field position, at the Bulldogs' own 45.
Wheat caught a pass from Jackson for 13 yards, and then three plays later, Jonathan Shepherd caught another for 9. Wheat had a 16-yard touchdown catch called back on a holding penalty, but then Kilgore scored on the very next play, a screen pass out in the flat to Hamilton that was good for the score. Torres' extra point gave Kilgore a 17-0 lead, which it held at halftime.
Kilgore scored twice more -- a 1-yard touchdown run by Nobles with 3:59 left in the third quarter, and a 3-yard run by Hamilton with 6:37 to play in regulation. Kilgore was up 23-0 before Navasota finally got on the board, and then the Rattlers added another, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Malek to Deedre Richardson, with 5:02 to play.