PALESTINE — The Palestine football team seemed poised to take the steps it needed into the upper echelon of the state’s Class 3A programs.

It stumbled, however, up the final step, falling to eighth-ranked Waco La Vega, 24-23, after going for the two-point conversion and the victory in overtime at Wildcat Stadium.

La Vega opened the overtime period with a single play, a 25-yard run by Randy Gober to put the Pirates up 24-17.

After Palestine’s drive appeared stalled, the Wildcats got some help from La Vega in the form of pass interference, giving Palestine a first-and-10 on the 12-yard-line.

After an incomplete pass and a short run, Palestine’s Ben Luckett ran in from 7 yards out to get the Wildcats within a point.

But, rather than settle for the tie, Palestine coach Lance Angel decided to go for the victory.

The Wildcats set up, but sent quarterback Brian Gummelt in motion to the right and snapped the ball to former quarterback-turned linebacker Caleb Cargill, whose pass into the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf, giving La Vega the win.

Palestine had plenty of chances to put the game away in regulation, but could never do it.

At the end of the third quarter, after a strong defensive stand by the Wildcats defense, the Palestine offense was on the move at midfield.

But, on the last play of the quarter, Palestine’s Darrius Stephens fumbled the ball, giving La Vega knew life in the game.

The Pirates went down and scored to tie the game up with just under 10 minutes to play.

On Palestine’s next two drives, the Wildcats got within striking distance.

On the first, they got all the way down to inside the Pirates' 10-yard-line, and a second-and-5 from the 7 set to go.

But, the team was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and couldn’t make up the yardage.

Lucas Valencia attempted a field goal, but had it blocked.

La Vega blocked a Valencia kick on the next Palestine possession as well, this one with less than a minute to play.

Stephens ran for 120 yards on only 10 carries for the Wildcats, and caught two passes for 44 yards.

Luckett finished with 76 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Jarrell Owens had 56 yards on the ground.

Gober ran for 158 on 19 carries for the Pirates, and scored two touchdowns.

It gets no easier for Palestine (0-1) next week, as the Wildcats travel to Jacksonville (1-0). The Indians upset third-ranked Carthage, 34-30, on Friday.