Palestine Rallies to Earn 35-28 Victory Over Rusk in Wildcats’ 19-3A Opener
PALESTINE — It took a little more than a half, but the Palestine football team got over its bye-week fog at Wildcat Stadium against visiting Rusk.
The Wildcats scored 29 straight points from the second quarter until late in the fourth to overcome a 15-point deficit and earn their first District 19-3A win of the season, 35-28, over Rusk.
The loss was the Eagles' fourth straight, and second straight to open district play. Rusk has its bye week next week, and conceivably needs to win out to make the playoffs.
Palestine came out of the gate rusty and quarterback Gee Clark threw an interception on the second play from scrimmage. Rusk turned that turnover into seven points, as quarterback Chase Stanley — filling in for starter Kody Stanley —ran in from 1-yard out, after converting a fourth-and-1 with a 7-yard run earlier in the drive.
On Palestine’s ensuing possession, the Wildcats drove deep into Eagle territory, but were faced with their own fourth-and-1.
Clark bobbled the snap and never cleanly got the handoff away, and running back Ben Luckett was tripped up at the line of scrimmage, turning the ball over on downs to the Eagles.
Rusk took advantage of the opportunity, and turned its own fourth-and-1 — this one at the Palestine 3-yard line — into a touchdown from star running back Chaston Bennett.
The teams then traded scores, before Palestine turned things on.
With less than two minutes to play in the half, Palestine started with great field position after a good return and a personal-foul penalty on Rusk, and the Wildcats capitalized.
Clark got his team to within seven at 21-14 on a 1-yard run, the score at the half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter belonged to Palestine.
The Wildcats got four rushing touchdowns from four different backs to turn the game in their favor.
Paul Barksdale ran in from 40 to tie things up at 21, and Jarrell Owens gave Palestine the lead at 28-21 with a `-yard rumble of his own.
Jadarrius Beasley capped things off with a 40-yard scamper for a score, putting Palestine up 35-21 with less than two minutes to play.
Rusk made things interesting on the ensuing kick, when Keshannon Dearman ran the squib-kick back 55 yards for a score to make it 35-28, but Rusk’s ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, and Palestine went into the victory formation.
Palestine ran for 270 yards as a team, 211 of it in the second half.
Beasley had 70 yards on only three carries, while Barksdale ran for 65 on three carries of his own.
Bennett led all rushers with 135 yards on 20 carries, and Ray Foreman added 62 yards rushing for the Eagles.
Palestine (5-2, 1-0) faces Groesbeck (4-3, 1-1) next week.