KAUFMAN — With a big win over rival Jacksonville behind them and a matchup with defending state champion Chapel Hill looming next week, it could have been easy for the Palestine football team to fall into at trap game here against Kaufman.
For a half, it looked as if the Wildcats might have.
But, two big plays in the fourth quarter helped the Wildcats put some distance between themselves and the Lions, and Palestine went on to a 24-10 victory over Kaufman and Lion Stadium.
“It’s a funny game because we had some big plays that we missed opportunities on, but then we turned around and made big turnovers and (running back Jadarrius) Beasley makes a big run,” PHS coach Lance Angel said. “It was a night when we could have had a lot of big plays, but in the end we got the big plays that we needed.”
Palestine only led 3-0 at the half, but finally got into the endzone in the third quarter.
After forcing Kaufman to punt on its first possession of the half, the Wildcats drove down 63 yards for their first score.
Jarrell Owens capped the drive for the Wildcats with a 12-yard run off of left tackle, giving Palestine a 10-0 lead.
Immediately after Kaufman took over after the kick-off, Palestine’s defense picked up where the offense left off and forced the Lions into a three-and-out, or so it seemed.
After Kaufman quarterback and punter Clay Rhodes bobbled the snap for the punt, he barely got the kick off before two Wildcats converged on him.
On of those players ran into Rhodes, drawing a penalty flag for roughing the punter that extended the drive.
The Lions used that opportunity and drove down the field, until Palestine again forced a third down at its own 30.
Rhodes dropped back and lofted a pass toward Cameron Duncan, but Palestine corner back Tony Butler seemed poised to come down with an interception.
But, the ball went right through Butler’s hands into the waiting arms of Duncan, and like that Kaufman had made the game 10-7.
Things got even stranger on the ensuing kick-off, when the Lions squib-kicked the ball toward the members of Palestine’s front line.
Caleb Cargill fielded the kick and, while trying to gain extra yards, fumbled the ball into the Lions’ possession. Fortunately for the Wildcats, that drive for Kaufman resulted in no points.
A nice punt from Rhodes pinned the Wildcats at their own five-yard line, a place they wouldn’t reside for long.
After a couple of plays got Palestine up to the 13, quarterback Gee Clark handed the ball off to Jadarrius Beasley, streaking toward the right sideline.
Beasley broke two tackles around the line of scrimmage, turned the corner and that was that. The 100-meter star turned on his speed and ran away from everybody on the field, an 87-yard score that gave the Wildcats a 17-7 lead.
Kaufman’s next drive resulted in a field goal from Jose Mata, and Palestine couldn’t quite put together a drive to run out the clock, giving Kaufman the ball back with four minutes to play.
But, on the drive’s first play — from the Lions’ own 13 — Cargill made amends for his earlier mistake.
On a run by LaXavier Battee, Cargill took the ball out of the running back’s hands, rushing in for a 13-yard touchdown that sealed the win for the Wildcats.
“We had a lot of kids make big plays, and he did make a big play there,” Angel said. “Offensively, we just felt like we never had the ball and they do a good job of doing what they do, keeping the ball.”
Beasley finished the game with 110 yards rushing on only seven carries, while Owens and Ben Luckett combined to rush for 80 yards.
Clark threw for 66 yards on 6-of-12 passing.
Battee led Kaufman with 65 yards rushing, while Rhodes threw for 92 yards.
The win moves Palestine to 2-1 heading into its big matchup against Chapel Hill Friday at Wildcat Stadium. The loss dropped the Lions to 1-2, and they will face Van next week.
Palestine 24, Kaufman 10
Palestine 0 3 7 14 — 24
Kaufman 0 0 7 3 — 10
P — Lucas Valencia 28 kick, 9:23
P — Jarrell Owens 12 run (Valencia kick), 5:04
K — Cameron Duncan 30 pass from Clay Rhodes (Jose Mata kick), 1:18
P — Jadarrius Beasley 87 run (Valencia kick), 9:47
K — Mata 30 kick, 7:19
P — Caleb Cargill 12 fumble return (Valencia kick), 3: 55
First downs 12 13
Rush-yards 33-238 42-186
Passing yards 66 92
C-A-I 6-12-1 7-14-1
Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-3
Punts 2 3
Penalties-yards 4-30 3-20
Rushing — P: Beasley 7-110; Owens 7-41; Ben Luckett 8-39; Juan Yarbrough 6-28. K: LaXavier Battee 14-65; Jacob Holley 4-52; Josh Ramirez 4-29; Rhodes 15-25;
Passing — P: Gee Clark 6-12-66-0. K: Rhodes 7-14-92-1
Receiving — P: Sheldon Watson 1-30; Jordan Anthony 3-27; Ben Luckett 1-8. K:Duncan 2-39; Michael Prox 1-20; Ramirez 2-18.