Palestine Thrives On Five Interceptions + Downs Fairfield
PALESTINE – Palestine is making a case for the most improved football team in East Texas.
Led by a defense that picked off five passes, Palestine pulled away from Fairfield 27-10 in a non-district game Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
Jhamonte Milton and Quinn Tinley had two interceptions apiece while Karnelius Hamilton had a pick six from 35 yards out with six seconds remaining.
Palestine improved to 3-0 after winning two games overall in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The also Wildcats snapped a six-game losing streak to Fairfield that dated back to 2009.
The winning side rallied from a 10-0 first quarter deficit.
Milton's first pick started an 80-yard drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Claude Rodgers to T.J. Dever with 11 seconds left in the first quarter to cut Fairfield's lead to 10-6. The drive included a 49-yard pass from Rodgers to Milton, who had four receptions for 88 yards.
Milton's second pick was with 10:15 left in the second quarter, but the ensuing Palestine drive stalled.
Palestine's third interception of the half was by Tinley, who made a 20-yard return to the Fairfield 13-yard line. Rodgers ran in it in from four yards out to give the Wildcats the lead for good with 8:26 left in the second quarter.
Another Tinley interception put Palestine ahead comfortably. Tinley's second pick gave the Wildcats the ball at the Fairfield 9-yard line with 8:19 left in the third quarter, setting up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Dever.
Palestine held Fairfield to 184 total yards.
Fairfield's ground game finished with 76 yards.
Palestine defensive end Waylon Nickerson led all players with eight tackles while linebacker Edward Reese had six tackles, three of those for losses.
Special-teams play helped Fairfield jump to an early lead.
Akeem Jackson returned the opening kickoff 60 yards to set up a 33-yard field goal by Erick Rodriguez Reyes.
Fairfield quarterback Zac Barlow connected with Akeem Jackson on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 7:20 left in the first quarter, set up by a 49-yard punt return by Jailyn Tatum.
Barlow finished with 138 total yards, but threw the five interceptions including three on consecutive throws in the first half.
Palestine hosts Van next Friday while Fairfield visits Rusk.