By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Palestine raced out to a three-touchdown lead that it never relinquished Thursday night to steal a 4A Division I bi-district championship from Life Waxahachie.
The Wildcats scored three times in the first half to build a 21-0 halftime lead and then survived a third-quarter Mustang come back for the 50-20 win. Five Life Waxahachie turnovers also greatly aided the Palestine effort.
“These seniors, they have been with us since the seventh grade and it is disappointing to go out this way,” Life Waxahachie head coach Heath Blalock told KBEC Sports, “but our locker room is full of unbelievable young men that are going to go out on their way when they graduate and do tremendous things.”
After Palestine carried a 21-0 lead into the halftime locker room, Kendal Barnes caught a 17-yard pass from Gage Mayfield to put the Mustangs on the board with 9:57 to play in the third quarter. Palestine, though, scored just 19 seconds later when Jeremiah Davis (19-178, 3TDs) rushed home from 68 yards out to put the Wildcats on top, 28-6.
Sir Michael Veasley eventually scored a Life Waxahachie rushing touchdown from 2 yards out (4:31, 3Q) and Mayfield caught a 35-yard pass from Cody Oder (1:17, 3Q) to cap the Mustang scoring.
Palestine held a 36-20 lead as the game turned toward the final quarter, which saw the Wildcats scored twice in the opening two minutes and change for the 50-20 final.
The Palestine offense outpaced Life Waxahachie 464 yards to 293, with 354 of those yards coming on the ground for the Wildcats.
Oder completed 6-of-his-13 passes for 93 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for the Mustangs, while Mayfield completed 1-of-his-6 passing attempts for a 17-yard touchdown to Kendal Barnes.
Veasley (16-69, TD) and Mayfield (13-68) paced the Life Waxahachie ground attack.
With the loss, Life Waxahachie is left still searching for its first playoff victory in program history despite five postseason appearances.
When asked what advice Mayfield and Veasley would give to the underclassmen, both focused on taking each day, game and play at a time and learning to cherish the moments made on the gridiron.
“They can’t ever take any days off and can’t take any day for granted,” Mayfield said. “You never know if you’ll be able to go to the next day and you only have so many minutes on the clock, so you have to play your heart out.”
Veasley added, “Don’t take football for granted, because you are only going to be together for a short period of time. You cannot take it for granted. It goes by too quick and you are going to miss it when it’s over.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith