KILGORE -- If the Kilgore's nightmarish non-district schedule was a high-wire act, then the Bulldogs' district opener Friday night against Palestine was like slipping into some comfortable old shoes.

Kilgore's defense held Palestine in check, and the Bulldogs got a pair of good rushing performances from Kevrin Justice and Jaquorious Smith in an impressive 41-6 win. Kilgore is 1-0 in District 9-4A Division I and visits Carthage next Friday night. The two last met in the UIL Class 3A Division I state championship game last December, which Carthage won.

Both teams have struggled this season in non-district games, although Kilgore's four losses are by a combined 13 points.

Kilgore is 2-4 this season.

Palestine (0-6) remains winless and will play at Chapel Hill next Friday.

Kilgore scored 17 first-half points. The teams traded possessions early, with Palestine unable to get past its own 11-yard-line. A Bulldogs offense that sputtered early got on track with a quick, four-play, 65-yard drive. The key play was a 51-yard run by Justice, who had lined up at quarterback on the play and was pulled down at Palestine's 10-yard line. Smith scored two plays later from five yards out, and kicker Livan Torres, who went 5-of-5 in extra point attempts and 2-of-2 in field goals in the game, hit the point after to put Kilgore in front 7-0.

The Bulldogs scored twice more in the half. Torres hit a 33-yard field goal with 7:27 left then Kilgore got a second touchdown pass on Xavier Gaona 31-yard pass to Vic Wallace.

Kilgore scored on the second play of the second half, a 49-yard touchdown run by Smith right after the kickoff. A Palestine fumble recovered by Kilgore linebacker Mason Shelton led to a 22-yard field goal by Torres. Justice capped Kilgore's next offensive drive with a 1-yard scoring run.

Justice also scored on a short run in the fourth quarter.

Kilgore did have a fumble late, inside its own 5, which led to Palestine's only score of the game. It was a three-yard run by quarterback Gee Clark.

The Wildcats were largely held in check by Kilgore's defense.

Palestine had 17 passing yards and 143 rushing yards, led by Marcus Robinson 76 yards on the ground.

Gaona went 3-for-3 for 75 yards and the touchdown to Wallace. The other two throws were both caught by Justice.

Justice finished with 130 yards on 17 carries and the two touchdowns. Smith had two touchdowns as well and recorded 76 yards.