HEWITT -- Palestine's historic ride into the playoffs ended Friday afternoon, following a 28-0 defeat against Midlothian Heritage at Panther Stadium in Waco.
"[Midlothian Heritage] has been in this round four years in a row,” Palestine head coach Lance Angel said. "That experience helped. Do I think we played our best? No. Did I coach my best? No. But it's been a fun ride."
On a wet, cloudy field at Panther Stadium, Palestine struggled early to produce through the air. On their opening possession, they were forced into a three-and-out after two deep incompletions.
A half of missed opportunities – punctuated by some of the best individual players Palestine had seen all year – highlighted the Wildcats' 14-0 deficit at the break.
The Jaguars took the first possession of the second half looking to extend their lead.
"We've been down 14 twice this year," Angel said. "We had to come out in the second half and play with confidence. Sometimes, when you run into a good football team the journey has to end. Unfortunately, it ended tonight."
After a solid kick return to set them up on their 42, quarterback Cade Sumbler connected with Jay Wilkerson for a 13-yard grab on their first play.
"That kid's special," Angel said of the Jaguars' leading receiver. “We knew that coming in. He made plays when he had to."
The Jaguars went back to Wilkerson a few plays later and drew a holding call on Palestine corner JK Lockett that moved them to the PHS 37.
Running back Latray Miller picked up 29 yards on his next two carries before Sumbler found Haydon Wiginton in the back of the endzone for an eight-yard score.
Down 21-0, Palestine still had nine minutes until the final quarter to dent the deficit. Set up on their 30, the Wildcats began composing their first drive of the second half. A sideline catch from Quintin Cook sat them at their own 40. A couple of short-yardage plays set Palestine up with a third-and-3.
"We tried to settle into what we do," Angel said. "They had two of the best linebackers we've seen all year and they gave us fits all night."
Keshawn Nonette offered a small boost and took his first carry of the third to the Jaguars 47. Christian Hutchinson attempted to connect with Nonette downfield on the next play but was intercepted.
Midlothian Heritage took over on their 20. Palestine couldn't get it going, as Sumbler faked the handoff to the running back and zoomed down the field for a 25-yard gain.
A couple plays later, Sumbler found his favorite target, Wilkerson, across the middle on a nine-yard grab. On the next set of downs, back-to-back offensive holding calls erased a 25-yard score from the Jaguars and forced a punt.
With the ball on their own 36, Palestine continued to struggle. A few short runs forced them into a fourth-down attempt. The needed conversion was stopped by immediate penetration from the Jaguars' front four.
A final touchdown from Wilkerson moved the lead to 28-0 and placed an emotional ending to the Wildcats' 2019 campaign.
"These seniors will be remembered as the group that got this started again," Angel said. "They're a good example for the younger guys coming up. They showed leadership and how our program is supposed to be. Every senior contributed to this program this year."