Growing up in the Rose City, Danny Palmer embraced the Tyler Junior College and Kilgore College rivalry at an early age.
He loves the tradition and pageantry when the two schools get together.
Palmer, TJC's head football coach, also relishes a win over the Rangers.
On Saturday, Palmer enjoyed the spectacle plus his No. 18 Apaches scoring a 55-44 victory over the No. 11 Rangers before 7,500 fans celebrating homecoming at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
"It's like a dream," Palmer said. "The kids played hard; and the defense came through when they had to, especially in the fourth quarter.
"The kicking game was the difference with the returns (JT Luper, Melvinson Hartfield) and the blocked extra point (by Delkei Derrett, former Tyler Lee standout)."
The win cemented a spot in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs for the Apaches (7-2, 4-2). The Rangers (7-2, 4-2) had already clinched a berth before the game.
No. 3 Trinity Valley (9-0, 7-0) won the regular season crown and finished the regular season with a 58-9 win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.
Also, Navarro (7-2, 4-2) defeated Blinn, 66-43, in Brenham.
Thus, Tyler, Navarro and Kilgore tied for second. A tiebreaker with the scores involving the three teams was used. Navarro got the No. 2 seed with a plus 7, Tyler was third at minus 2 and Kilgore was No. 4 at minus 5.
It means No. 3 TJC will play the No. 2 Bulldogs Saturday in Corsicana. The No. 4 Rangers will play the No. 1 Cardinals Saturday in Athens. Game times are to be determined.
The winners meet in the conference championship game on Nov. 8 at the highest remaining seed.
The game was highly entertaining and hard-hitting.
TJC's Chaston Bennett, a sophomore from Rusk, led the Apaches in rushing with 128 yards and a TD on 20 carries.
On the season, Bennett has 1,044 yards and 19 TDs on 167 attempts.
Tyler quarterbacks Sederian Copeland and Tevin Muse were both instrumental in the victory.
Copeland helped the Apaches to a 35-34 lead in the third quarter before having to leave the game when sustaining a targeting hit from KC's Joshua Williams with 1:29 left in the third quarter. Williams was ejected.
Copeland did not return, but TJC head trainer Eddy McGuire said the freshman from Dallas should be fine. He added the training staff will check out Copeland again today.
Copeland connected on 16 of 24 pass attempts for 204 yards and three TDs (26 to Tyler Taylor, 65 and 4 to Ryan Parker). He also scored on a 1-yard dash.
Parker was his usual spectacular self with eight receptions for 122 yards, including the highlight reel one-handed catch in the end zone for the 4-yard TD.
Muse took over and directed the Apaches to the win after TJC had fell behind 41-35 (on Averion Hurts 15-yard TD pass to Louis Daily with 13:50 to go in the game) and 44-42 (37 field goal by Luis Sanchez with 9:16 remaining).
First, Muse tossed a 41-yard TD pass to Melvinson Hartfield with 12:51 on the clock in the fourth. After Ljundrim Kaba's kick, Tyler was back ahead 42-41.
Hartfield had seven receptions for 119 yards.
After falling behind 44-42, Muse drove the Apaches down the field and scored on a 3-yard run. After the try for two failed, TJC was ahead 48-44 with 5:46 left.
The Apache defense was solid forcing a KC punt and Kaba's punt penned the Rangers at the 14.
Eventually, the defensive unit made the Rangers go for it on fourth down from their own 6 with about a minute to play.
TJC forced an incompletion and the Apaches took over. Ken Burks scored on a 6-yard run and Kaba booted the PAT for the final of 55-44 with 59 seconds to go.
Palmer decided to go for the TD because the added points resulted in the Apaches being the No. 3 seed instead of No. 4.
Former Henderson standout Patrick "Monster" Brown had six catches for 90 yards for the Rangers. He also had a 57-yard run.
Hurts threw for 163 yards, while Allen tossed for 153.
Joshua Wheeler had three sacks for TJC, while former Chapel Hill standout Colton Moorehead added a sack. Christopher Mobley, a former JT standout, and Treavor Pugh, a former REL star, batted down passes.
Kilgore's Demontrai Davis had two sacks, while Silvester Hayes added one.
SMOKE SIGNALS: The Apache Belles will perform at Monday's night NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Belles will have routines before the game and at halftime. … A player from Tyler (Savion Brown) and a player from Kilgore (Joshua Williams) were ejected for targeting. Thus, they will be ineligible for next week's playoff games.
No. 18 Tyler 55, No. 11 Kilgore 44
Earl Campbell Field
At Trinity Mother Frances
Kilgore 13 7 14 10 — 44
Tyler 7 14 14 20 — 55
KC—Eddie Smith 1 run (Luis Sanchez kick), 10:25
TJC—Sederian Copeland 1 run (Ljundrim Kaba kick), 9:01
KC—Corey Davis 9 pass from Averion Hurts (kick failed), 1:21
TJC—Tyler Taylor 26 pass from Copeland (Kaba kick), 10:45
TJC—Ryan Parker 65 pass from Copeland (Kaba kick), 5:30.
KC—Javelle Allen 4 pass from Fonzale Davis (Sanchez kick), 1:08
TJC—Parker 4 pass from Copeland (Kaba kick), 11:30
KC—Louis Daily 42 pass from Hurts (Sanchez kick), 8:47
TJC—Chaston Bennett 36 run (Kaba kick), 7:49
KC —Michael Watson 3 pass from Hurts (Sanchez kick), 5:21
KC—Daily 15 pass from Hurts (Sanchez kick), 13:50
TJC—Melvinson Hartfield 41 pass from Tevin Muse (Kaba kick), 12:51
KC—FG Sanchez 37, 9:16
TJC—Muse 3 run (pass failed), 5:46
TJC—Ken Burks 6 run (Kaba kick), :59
EST. ATT. —7,500.
First Downs 24 25
Rushes-Yards 40-267 39-169
Passing Yards 320 274
Comp.-Att.-Int. 22-37-0 18-28-1
Punts-Avg. 4-39.2 4-36.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 15-137 11-91
RUSHING—Kilgore, Javelle Allen 12-99, Patrick Brown 1-57, Eddie Smith 9-49, Keevon Aldridge 7-34, Averion Hurts 4-26, Corey Davis 6-18, Team 1-(-16). Tyler, Chaston Bennett 20-128, Tyler Taylor 2-15, Tevin Muse 3-13, Ken Burks 2-8, Melvinson Hartfield 1-6, Sederian Copeland 10-0, Team 1(-1).
PASSING—Kilgore, Hurst 10-17-0-4 163, Allen 11-19-0-0 153, Fonzale Davis 1-1-0-1 4. Tyler, Copeland 16-24-0-3 204, Muse 2-4-1-1 70.
RECEIVING—Kilgore, Brown 6-90, Davis 3-43, Michael Watson 3-16, Louis Daily 2-57, Chris Chumley 2-22, Joe Lewis 2-26, Davis 1-40, Aldridge 1-18, Jeremiah Baines 1-4, Allen 1-4. Tyler, Ryan Parker 8-122, Hartfield 7-119, Taylor 3-33.