By JUSTIN RAINS
FAIRFIELD — The Palestine football team’s regular season ended just like it started, with a gut-wrenching overtime loss.
The Wildcats fell to Fairfield, 60-59, in overtime here at Eagle Stadium Friday, conceding the District 19-3A title to their rivals.
Fairfield got the win by going for a two-point conversion after Larry Rose scored an 11-yard touchdown to make it 59-58 Palestine. Palestine had opened up the overtime with a score on a 15-yard touchdown run from Jarrell Owens.
Instead of playing for the tie and another overtime, Fairfield coach John Bachtel went for the win, and it paid off.
Rose ran behind the left side of the Fairfield line and made it into the endzone, sending the Fairfield sideline into celebration and the Palestine sideline into despair.
The game almost never got to overtime, with Palestine trailing 49-39 with less than eight minutes to play.
But, Paul Barksdale and Gee Clark kept Palestine alive.
First, the two hooked up for a 40-yard touchdown on a play-action pass that left Barksdale wide-open over the middle to cut the Palestine deficit to 49-46.
Then, after a Palestine defensive stop, the Wildcats seemed to be in prime position to take control.
But, a negative play and some small runs left Palestine facing a 4th-and-23. Clark responded, finding Barksdale on a 25-yard crossing pattern for the first down.
Less than a minute later, Clark hit Barksdale on a screen pass that the senior took 47 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. A touchdown that, at the time, looked like it might be the game winner.
On the ensuing extra-point try, a Fairfield defender broke through the Palestine line and got to kicker Lucas Valencia before he could even get to the ball, making it 49-46 Palestine.
That would prove to be costly.
Fairfield didn’t lay down. The Eagles went almost 60 yards in about one minute, thanks to some big passes from quarterback Aaron Cain and big runs from Rose.
But, the drive stalled inside the five, and Jacob Judd kicked the game-tying field goal as time expired to send the game into the extra frame.
Palestine took loads of momentum into halftime, leading 26-21, after scoring 18-straight points between the end of the first half and beginning of the second.
Palestine scored twice in the final minute, once on a run by Owens and then on a 40-yard interception return by Ivory Brown right before half.
Darrius Stephens then added a touchdown to put Palestine up 32-21 after Palestine’s first second half possession.
Fairfield responded with touchdown runs from Rose and Andre Welch sandwiched around a touchdown pass from Cain to Cooper Cole to retake the lead for the Eagles.
Barksdale finished with 152 total yards for Palestine, while Jadarrius Beasley rank for a team-high 159 yards on 20 carries. Clark finished 6-of-9 passing for 137 yards and his two touchdown passes to Barksdale. He also ran for a score.
Palestine opens up the playoffs Friday in Lufkin against state-ranked Carthage