The Palestine football team had come back again, this time in overtime, and were an extra point away from heading to a second extra period with eighth-ranked La Vega Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
Palestine’s Ben Luckett had just rumbled in from seven yards out, cutting the Pirates lead from 24-17 to 24-23, and the Wildcats seemed poised to extend the game once again.
Then, Palestine decided to go for the win, and couldn’t covert. The Wildcats’ upset bid fell a point short, 24-23.
Palestine lined up for the two-point conversion, and then sent quarterback Brian Gummelt out in motion to the right.
Former quarterback turned linebacker Caleb Cargill took the snap, but his pass was behind his intended receiver, falling helplessly to the turf.
Wildcat players fell to the field dejected, while La Vega celebrated its escape from Palestine with a victory.
The night was one of missed opportunities for Palestine, mostly opportunities to put them game away early.
With just over a quarter to play, it appeared as if Palestine had La Vega on its heels.
The Wildcats had just made a huge defensive stop, and behind a solid rushing attack were driving down the field with a 17-10 lead.
Then, as time in the third quarter was expiring, Darrius Stephens put the ball on the turf. La Vega recovered and drove down the field for the game-tying touchdown.
It was that kind of night for Palestine.
Later on in the fourth, a fantastic Palestine drive, capped by a pass from quarterback Gee Clark to Darrius Stephens for 44 yards, had the Wildcats inside the La Vega 10-yard-line.
Then, a personal foul penalty was called on the ’Cats pushing them back. They could never make up the distance, and Lucas Valencia’s field goal attempt two plays later was blocked.
Much as it did all night, however, Palestine’s defense held and got the Wildcats the ball back.
Again Palestine marched into La Vega territory, and again Valencia was poised to kick the go-ahead field goal. This time, there was less than a minute to play.
That attempt also was blocked, allowing La Vega to run out the clock and set up the fateful overtime period.
In the extra frame, the Pirates needed only one play to get on the board.
Randy Gober took a handoff from quarterback Marcus Evans and scampered all 25 yards to the endzone, putting La Vega up 24-17. It was the Pirates’ first lead since Palestine took the lead in the third quarter, 14-10.
Darrius Stephens ran for a team-high 120 yards for Palestine on only 10 carries, while Luckett finished with 76 yards and two touchdowns. Jarrell Owens had 56 yards of his own on the ground.
Gummelt and Clark combined to throw for 99 yards on 9-of-22 passing, with Gummelt finding Tony Butler for a first quarter touchdown.
Gober had 158 yards for La Vega on 19 carries, twice finding the end zone.
La Vega quarterback Marcus Evans was 9-of-22 for 81 yards in the victory for the Pirates (1-0).
Palestine (0-1) won’t see its schedule get any easier next week, when the Wildcats travel to Jacksonville to take on the Indians (1-0), who upset Carthage Friday.
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