PALESTINE – The Palestine Wildcats (3-4, 1-1) host Texas' number two ranked Class 4A-Division I team Carthage Bulldogs (7-0), 2-0) tonight.
The Wildcats return home following their 21-14 defeat against the Van Vandals last week. The defense held the Vandals to a touchdown in the second half after going down 14-0 before the half. Palestine quarterback Christian Hutchinson was one of the Wildcats' top performers as Jeremiah Davis was neutralized on the ground. Though Hutchinson threw for a season-high 258 yards, Davis was held under 100 yards rushing for just the third time this season (65).
Along with Hutchinson's big day through the air, wide receiver Marquis Thompson enjoyed a historic night receiving. His six receptions for 186 yards were the second-most in school history in a single game. Thompson is also just the sixth receiver to surpass 1,000 career receiving yards in school history.
“It was another game we kept fighting,” coach Lance Angel said. “I think a team that doesn't have that [strong] mentality probably give up. We have to keep scratching and fighting. Our goal is playoffs and that goal is still in front of us.”
Both times, he followed those performances with 200 yard days on the ground. However, it'll be a tall task to produce that type of effort this week against the district's best defense.
“We have to find ways to control the ball and control the time of possession,” Angel said. “It's one of those games that's going to be a war. We just have to come out and continue to be a physical football team.”
Carthage is fresh off a, 40-14, win over Tyler Chapel Hill last week where they held Chapel Hill to 72 yards on the ground. Their stout defensive front is led by linebacker Rayvon Ingram and defensive linemen Quinton Owens – both first-team all-district selections in 2018.
Neutralizing opposing rushing attacks have been the norm for the Bulldogs holding teams to an average of 85 yards rushing/game. The outlier being Pleasant Grove where the Hawks rushed for 256 yards in a 35-14 loss against Carthage.
On the offensive side, Carthage has shown an ability to attack teams through the air and on the ground this season. The Bulldogs showcased a balanced attack against Chapel Hill with 287 yards passing and another 251 on the ground.
Collectively, Carthage is averaging over 200 yards rushing over their last three outings. Nick Stewart emerged as their leading rusher last Friday (92), but the majority of the season has been centered around first-team all-district running back Mason Courtney.
Since 2016, Carthage is 16-1 on the road. Palestine hopes to break their 15-game road winning streak tonight.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.