KILGORE — There wasn’t a better place to get back on track than in the District 9-4A, Division I opener for Kilgore. The Bulldogs answered the bell with a 41-6 victory over Palestine on Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
Kevrin Justice rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns before calling it a night early in the fourth quarter with a 4-yard scoring run. His first TD came on a 1-yard blast. In both instances, the Bulldogs were finishing off short scoring drives of four and six plays covering 29 and 28 yards.
Kilgore (2-4, 1-0) also got scoring runs of 5 and 49 yards from junior running back Jacquorius Smith as well as a 31-yard scoring strike from quarterback Xaviar Gaona to Victor Wallace, and field goals of 32 and 22 yards by Livan Torres to wrap up its point production.
Palestine finally got on the scoreboard after coming away with a Kilgore fumble inside its 10-yard line after the Ragin’ Red defense led by Kris Haynes, Mason Shelton, Caylon Williams and friends, thwarted a Wildcats’ scoring opportunity inside the 10-yard line.
The Bulldogs led in total yardage 329 to 156. Behind Justice, and an 88-yard rushing performance by Smith, Kilgore rushed for 255 yards on 44 attempts.
Palestine’s leading ball carriers were Marcus Robinson (8-75) and Devonte Mims (19-54).
Gaona was 3-for-3 passing for 74 yards. Besides his 31-yard scoring strike to Wallace, he had two completions to Justice, totaling 43 yards. The Kilgore quarterback was shaken up in the final minute of the third quarter and did not return. Backup quarterback Jake Goode stepped in to play the rest of the contest.
Palestine’s Gee finished 5 of 13 passing for 15 yards. He was intercepted once by Williams.
Kilgore held not only a comfortable lead (17 points) at halftime, but a decisive edge in total yardage, 183 to 76. Granted it took a little time to get things going, but Kilgore, which came into its district opener with four losses by a margin of 13 points, took to the final minute of the first period to get on the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs scratched first with a 5-yard run by Jacquorius Smith with 32 seconds remaining in the first period. The scoring on the toss-sweep capped a nifty four-play, 65-yard march. The big play in the drive was a 52-yard scamper by Justice, who took the snap from center out of the Wild Dog formation.
Kilgore 41, Palestine 7
At R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Kilgore
Palestine 0 0 0 6 — 6
Kilgore 7 10 17 7 — 41
KIL: Jaquorius Smith 5 run. Livan Torres PAT. :32
KIL: Torres 32 field goal. 7:27
KIL: Xaviar Gaona 31 pass to Victor Wallace. Torres PAT. 3:27
KIL: Smith 49 run. Torres PAT. 11:36
KIL: Torres 22 field goal. 7:42
KIL: Kevrin Justice 1 run. Torres PAT. 3:06
KIL: Justice 4 run. Torres PAT. 11:01
PAL: Fabian Clark 4 run. PAT blocked. 5:05