KILGORE -- The Bulldogs handed Henderson a 24-18 loss Friday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium in its regular season finale.

The win was Kilgore's third straight in the rivalry, a series Kilgore now leads 45-29-1.

Both District 9-4A Division I teams were already in the playoffs. Kilgore goes in having won two straight, trying to bounce back after a season of injuries, wild finishes and youth getting valuable playing experience. The Bulldogs are 4-6 on the season and face Jasper Thursday night in Lufkin.

Henderson finished the regular season at 8-2 and the district's first seed headed into the Class 4A Division II playoffs. The Lions will face Silsbee next Friday.

It was a game of the unexpected.

Henderson had a 15-play drive in the first half that managed only a 32-yard Edgar Sanchez field goal. Kilgore took an improbable lead when Nick Orange caught a nine-yard pass from William Colbert on third down, and then the Bulldogs extended their lead to 10-3 just before halftime on a 23-yard field goal by Livan Torres.

Kilgore muffed the second-half squib kickoff. Henderson recovered, but still couldn't score. That was one continuing story line in the game, the Lions' inability to convert on fourth down.

Henderson attempted six fourth-down conversions, and Kilgore's defense stood tall each time.

Kilgore went up 17-3 when Colbert connected with Victor Wallace Jr. on an 80-yard touchdown play in the third quarter.

Just when it appeared the Bulldogs might be pulling away, Henderson punched right back, a 72-yard kickoff return by Trestan Ebner. Boles threw a two-point conversion pass and Henderson was within six, 17-11.

The Lions' defensive problem was Justice, a verbal commitment to the University of Houston. Justice has nursed injuries on and off all season, but ran with authority Friday night, including a 61-yard run to Henderson's 30-yard-line which set his own score three plays later from five yards out.

Torres hit the extra point and, with a minute and a half left in the third, gave Kilgore a 24-11 lead.

The score remained that way until just over five minutes left in the game.

The Lions were backed up against their own goal line after a 50-yard punt by Christian Galvan, but Boles found Ebner downfield for an 84-yard touchdown pass. This time Henderson opted for a Sanchez point after kick, and Henderson trailed by just six again, 24-18.

An onside kick attempt was recovered at midfield by Kilgore linebacker Mason Shelton.

Kilgore was able to run off a good chunk of clock. Justice had a 94-yard touchdown run that would have iced the game called back on a holding penalty.

Still, Henderson got the ball back with 2:36 left, and a fourth-down pass from Boles was incomplete.

The Bulldogs took over and drove inside Henderson's 20, taking it down to the final seconds before the Henderson defense was able to force the fourth-down play. Colbert ran around for a few seconds, then passed the ball to Orange, who wasn't able to make the catch.

Time did run out on the clock, but even after putting the second and a half back on, Boles and the Lions fell short on the game's last play.

Justice carried the ball 18 times for 160 yards and the five-yard score, including once out of a wildcat formation. Caylon Williams had 30 yards on the ground and Jaquorious Smith had 19. Colbert was 4-of-11 for 105 yards with the scoring passes to Orange and Wallace.

Boles went 13-of-26 for 200 yards and the touchdown to Ebner, who finished with six catches for 128 yards and the score. Jefferson Armstrong had five catches for 39 yards and Boles recorded a team-best 51 rushing yards.