By BRYAN URBACH
MEXIA — Palestine has clinched the No. 1 seed in Division I.
In what started out as a sloppy first half performance for both teams, the Palestine Wildcats eventually were able to pull out a 32-13 victory against the Mexia Blackcats by way of rushing the ball and great defensive play.
This week’s player who stepped up and performed the best for Palestine was actually more than one player. Ben Luckett and Jarrell Owens commanded the running game for the Wildcats, and the whole defensive unit kept the Wildcats ahead.
In the first half, Jarrell Owens knotted two touchdowns, one passing and one rushing. He finished the night with 14 carries for 109 yards and the aforementioned touchdowns. Running beside him throughout the game was Ben Luckett who struggled to start the first half, but came out well in the second half. Those halftime adjustments led him to 17 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown on the night. Palestine coach Lance Angel said he was proud of the way his team came away from the game with a victory, especially with such a big thing on the line.
“Our defense really bailed us out tonight,” Angel said. “Our defense played outstanding. We struggled at times offensively. They packed a lot of guys in the box, and that made us have kind of an off night on offense. Our defense stepped up and made some great plays, so I give credit to them.
“The win gives us the No. 1 seed in Division I, which is a huge thing,” he added. “I’m just really proud of these kids.”
Also in on the scoring for the Wildcats was quarterback Gee Clark who ran the ball in from two yards out and running back Devonte Mims who ran another one in for the Wildcats in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for Palestine.
The 32-13 victory against Mexia made it Palestine’s third district game in a row that it has won, and with that, the Wildcats are a lock for a playoff spot. Angel said Jarrell Owens’ performance tonight in the first half is what helped spark the team to keep playing well in the second half.
“We kind of sensed it this week with Jarrell,” Angel said. “He had a great week in practice and then he was really hungry for it in this game. I thought he stepped up great and then even made some key runs in the second half, too, for us. He did a good job for us.”
Even after going into the halftime with a 13-0 lead, the Wildcats weren’t done scoring. The performance by the running backs in this game propelled the Wildcats to a victory and ultimately led the ‘Cats to remain undefeated in district play.