Palestine Scores at Will, Secures Playoff Berth With Rout of Mexia
PALESTINE — A district-title matchup next week was looming, and the Palestine Wildcats could have easily overlooked winless Mexia.
They didn’t. Instead, the Wildcats took care of business and then some.
Palestine scored almost at will, and the Wildcats offense ran all over the Blackcats to the tune of 403 total yards in the game for a 63-24 blowout victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
The win secured a playoff spot for the Wildcats (7-2, 3-0), and sets up a matchup with rival Fairfield (6-3, 3-0) next week with the district title on the line.
Palestine's first-round playoff matchup with Carthage is already set -- the two will square off at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin.
The Wildcats scored on eight of their 10 possessions and seemed in control from the outset, when they scored on four-straight possessions.
Jarrell Owens opened the scoring with a one-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal for a score, and after a three-and-out by the Palestine defense, Gee Clark found Sheldon Watson on an easy play-action pass for a 33-yard score to make it 15-0 Wildcats.
After Palestine again forced a Mexia punt, the Wildcats again found the end zone, this time on a 13-yard screen pass from Clark to Paul Barksdale, who easily scored behind the blocking of Owens.
Mexia got on the board courtesy of the big play shortly after that, when Ike Jones scored from 86 yards out after Mexia had been pushed back by a hold on the kick-off return.
Palestine quickly answered, and Juan Yarbrough scored from two yards out to make it 29-6 Palestine. That score was set up by a big fourth-down conversion by Palestine at midfield, when Clark hit Brian Gummelt on fourth-and-7 for a 47-yard pass-and-catch down to the two-yard line.
Mexia then started to put up its biggest surge of the night, again courtesy of Jones.
After the Yarbrough touchdown, the junior returned the ensuing kick to the Palestine 30 yard line, setting up a nine-yard run for himself to make it 29-12.
Clark then threw an interception at the Mexia 10-yard line, and Jones made Palestine pay with another big play.
This time, he made a nice play on an underthrown pass by running back Kaylon Watson, then out-ran defenders to the end zone for a 90-yard score to make it 29-18.
But, Mexia got no closer.
Jadarrius Beasley scored a 48-yard touchdown with six seconds left in the half, then went to the house from 46 yards out on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to quickly make it 42-18, and put it out of reach.
Beasley finished with 117 yards and his two scores on only five carries to lead Palestine in rushing.
Clark through another touchdown pass late in the third quarter to Marquis Clark, and Jordan Anthony returned an interception 96 yards for a touchdown to add to the Palestine lead and make it 56-18.
Broderick Reeves scored for Mexia midway through the fourth, but it was quickly negated by a 10-yard Darrius Stephens touchdown run.
While the win sets up a district title match-up next week against Fairfield, it also cements Palestine’s place in the playoffs as the Division representative from District 19-3A.
The Wildcats will take on Carthage at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Lufkin’s Abe Martin Stadium in the bi-district round.