No. 6 Fairfield Dominates Palestine in Every Aspect, 54-0, for 10-0 Season
[By Ben Rikard, Special to ETSN.fm]
PALESTINE – The No. 6 Fairfield Eagles held the Palestine Wildcats to just 27 yards of total offense and used a pair of defensive scores to accentuate a dominating 54-0 win at Wildcat Stadium on Friday night.
For the second straight season the District 19-3A championship came down to the regular season’s final game between Fairfield and Palestine, but this season’s clash was much different than the 60-59 overtime shootout in Fairfield a year ago.
The Eagles (10-0, 4-0) claimed their fourth straight district crown in a game that was never in question, racking up 421 yards of offense in a balanced attack led by quarterback Jacob Gallegos, who totaled 334 yards of total offense -- 265 in the air -- and accounted for three Fairfield touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Palestine (7-3, 3-1) finished with just five first downs on the night – two coming via penalty – and rushed for just 12 yards, turning the ball over four times. A pair of those turnovers proved immediately costly, none more so than Colby Minze’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, pushing Fairfield’s lead to 28-0.
Palestine held Fairfield leading rusher Larry Rose to just 59 yards on 12 carries on the night, but Rose still got the Eagles on the board in the opening quarter on a 1-yard run, capping a 13-play drive. The Wildcat defense then forced consecutive punts from the explosive Eagle offense before Fairfield caught fire.
A 9-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter from Gallegos was followed on the ensuing drive by a 26-yard connection in the end zone from Gallegos to Cameron Hicks with just over two minutes to go in the half.
Palestine had a chance to go into the break down just 21-0, but Wildcat quarterback Gee Clark’s last-second pass was picked off by Minze, who raced to the corner of the end zone for the score to give the Eagles a 28-0 halftime edge.
Fairfield then wasted no time adding to its lead, capping a four-play scoring drive with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Gallegos to Alex Ward, who finished with three catches for 108 yards on the night. A Wildcat fumble two plays letter then gave Fairfield a short field and Rose found the end zone for the second time on the night, this time from 10 yards out.
One drive later, Fairfield put things out of reach when Charles Oliver returned Clark’s third interception of the night 68 yards for the second Eagle defensive score the game.
Palestine running back Ben Luckett, who had already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, was held to just 24 yards on 13 carries, while Clark completed just three of his 14 pass attempts on the night.
The Eagles will begin their playoff push in the 3A Division II ranks on Friday when they take on Diboll in Crockett. Meanwhile, Palestine will begin the 3A Division I playoffs on Friday against Jasper at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.