PALESTINE – The Palestine Wildcats clinched their second consecutive playoff berth under head coach Lance Angel behind a 42-6 homecoming victory against the Athens Hornets Friday.
The Wildcats exixted halftime boasting a 21-0 lead. Athens did little to shift momentum with their opening second half possession as they were froced to punt after three plays.
On the opposire sidelines, Palestine continued to roll. Set up on Athens' 45, a 35-yard pass from Jarrod Walker to Jakaryon Conley set up a 12-yard end around touchdown run from Jermeny Walker.
Down 28-0 with 10:00 left in the third, Athens began composing a drive. They weere held to another three-and-out before a fake punt pass from Ty Arroyo to Timber Crouch put them on Palestine's 48.
The bold call resulted in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Arroyo to Cedric Lowe on the next play. The following extra point was block, which kept the score at 28-6, Palesitne.
The Hornets continued to find difficulties in containing the Wildcats rushing attack. Runs from Conley and Shedrick Dudley highlted the quick five-play, 75-yard scoring drive that end in a two-yard Conley run.
With 6:20 left, Athens once gain attempted to carve their way down the field. The drive began with a six-yard run from Jecorey Roberts before a mishandled handoff nearly resulted in tragedy for their offense. On third-and-4, Daniel Stanley sleight of hand trick on a read-option stumped the defense until he was 38 yards down the field on Palesitne's 24.
A couple of plays later, another bad handoff caused a major setback for the Hornets. It presented a fourth-and-4 in which Arroyo was forced into a bad pass due to heavy pressure from Palestine's front seven.
The pass was broken up by Chris Bryant and set the Wildcats up on their own six with 3:32 remaining in the third. Palestine's ability to chew clock began to shine as they ate off seven minutes of game clock.
The methodical drive was capped off by a 20-yard Conley touchdown run to extend their lead to 42-6 with the ensuing extra point.
Athens was handed the ball back with eight minutes to spare and were unable to find much success for the rest of the quarter as the game ended in a 36-point win for Palestine.
The Wildcats close out their district schedule against Lindale next week before their week 10 bye week.
A dominate second-quarter stretch allowed the Wildcats to carry a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Palestine wasted little time taking control of the game as their offense took the field first. Their opening drive ended with a De'myzean Martin-Shovier Conley 20-yard connection for the first score of the night.
PHS defense, who has been elite all year, foced an Athens punt on their first drive. Jakaryon Conley began Palestine's second drive by gashing the Hornets' defense for a 20-yard gain, but had it called back because of holding. The penalty depleted the Wildcats' momentum as they were forced to punt three plays later.
Athens set up shop on their 49 looking to even the score. A couple of runs totaling 18 yards form Jecorey Porter put them on the PHS 40.
Cedric Lowe pounded the ball for another sizable gain before a Palestine pass interference call on second down put them on the PHS 19.
Shortly after, Ty Arroyo went back to Lowe to put them on the eight.
He tried his luck one more time with Lowe in the endzone, but the pass was broken up by Jermeny Walker.
A pivotal pass breakup turned into a forced fumble and recovery form Dawaylyn Lewis who returned it 29 yards.
The Wildcat offense was unable to capitlize. Athens again began their drive with a couple of big plays to Cesar Martinez and Roberts.
They had the Hornets stationed at the PHS 29 before another muffed handoff resulted in a seven-yard loss. The mistake continued for Athens as an arrant Arroyo pass was intercepted by Taj'Shawn Wilson.
Palestine's offense stalled again – as did Athens.
With 7:47 remaining until half, the Wildcats took over on their 41 before Martin found a streaking Tawalan Cook down field for a 64-yard touchdown.
Cook wasn't done adding to his highlight reel. A tipped fourth-down pass inside their redzone resulted in a Cook interception that started their offense on their own 14.
Two plays later, Martin found Cook again for a 76-yard touchdown.