Henderson Jumps on Palestine Early En Route to 61-26 Rout in Regular Season Finale
PALESTINE – Henderson raced out to 26-point lead in the first 13 minutes of the game in a 61-26 win over Palestine in the District 9-4A Division I finale on Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
Henderson (9-1, 5-1) clinched the district's second seed in the playoffs after failing to make the postseason last year. The Lions will open the playoffs against Little Cypress-Mauriceville at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in Crockett.
Palestine ended its season at 5-5 overall and 2-4 in district, a four-game improvement over 2015, but allowed a season-high in points.
Henderson took control of the game quickly. The Lions moved 61 yards on the opening drive of the game and capped it with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Childers from Trae Hall. Childers scored six touchdowns in one half against Palestine in a 41-0 win last season. After Palestine was held to a three-play possession on its first drive Henderson running back La'Kendrick VanZandt sprinted 57 yards for a touchdown.
VanZandt scored another touchdown with 2:34 left in the first quarter on a 10-yard run, set up by a down-field pitch by Trestan Ebner. VanZandt rushed for 90 yards on eight carries, all in the first half.
Hall threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Ebner with 11:04 left in the first quarter. Palestine had four yards of offense and no first downs in the first quarter. The Wildcats started leaning on its passing game in the second quarter with quarterback Claude Rodgers connected with Tyler Gray for a 36-yard touchdown pass.
After Palestine defensive lineman Nomar Villegas recovered a Hall fumble Irric Deyon had a 16-yard touchdown run to Henderson's lead to 26-13 with 5:42 left in second quarter, but Henderson rebounded for a 56-yard drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Ebner.
Palestine attempted a fake punt with 1:42 left in the first half, but punter Gray's pass was intercepted by Treylun Blanton. A 48-yard pass from Hall to Van Zandt set up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Janathon Newman with 59 seconds left in the first half. Hall passed for 240 yards in the first half where he had most of his production in a nearly flawless game.
Hall finished 13-for-14 on pass attempts for 260 yards.
Lynn Freeney had touchdown runs of 17 and 7 yards in the second half for Henderson.
Palestine linebacker Edward Reese had a 59-yard touchdown run off a fake punt with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Reese also had a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:47 remaining.
Tyrek Blanton led Henderson with six tackles while Kameron Hamilton had six tackles for Palestine.