LONGVIEW — Kevrin Justice rushed for 99 yards and four touchdowns as No. 5 Kilgore opened District 16-3A play with a convincing 41-12 win over Spring Hill on Friday night at Panther Stadium.
The victory was Kilgore’s fourth of the season without a loss, while Spring Hill, coming off a win over Bullard Brook Hill a week ago, dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in district play.
The game also marked the starting debut of Xavier Gaona at quarterback for the Bulldogs. The junior signal-caller drew the nod for Benny Colbert, who was suspended from school this week.
Gaona was 6 of 9 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown, that going 19 yards to Nick Orange for the score, which came late in the second quarter to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 27-0 at halftime.
The game was never really in doubt as Kilgore won the opening coin toss, received the kickoff and promptly navigated 46 yards. Justice, who rushed for a career-high last week against Mount Pleasant, sprinted in from 40 yards out on a sweep-right call. Christian Galvan converted the first of his five extra points and the ‘Dogs were on their way.
Justice added scoring runs of 28, 4 and 5 yards, giving him nine touchdowns this season.
Jacori Smith added a 10-yard scoring run with 49 seconds left in the third period to wrap up Kilgore’s point production for the evening.
Trailing 41-0, the Panthers got on the scoreboard with a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first of those capped a six-play, 69-yard drive. Nick McKee, who rushed for more than 200 yards in last week’s Spring Hill victory, scored on an 8-yard run. He had a 12-yard run, but the big play of the scoring march was a 42-yard Jacob Rooney completion to Waylon McFadin.
The Panthers scored again on their final possession of the contest, a 67-yard drive as Rooney, who finished 10 of 15 passing for 149 yards, completed a scoring strike of 56 yards to Dylan Evans.
Kilgore finished the night’s work with 330 yards of total offense compared to Spring Hill’s 229.
The Ragin’ Red defense turned in another stellar performance, limiting the Panthers to 80 yards rushing on 30 carries. McKee led the way with 49 yards on 20 carries.
McFadin finished with six catches for 66 yards for the Panthers.
Following Justice’s rushing lead for Kilgore were Jacori Smith (5-56) and Jacobie Vidal (10-37).
Spring Hill drove the ball early in the game from its 19 to the Kilgore 22, but the drive stalled. Kicker Troy Duran came on, but missed a 34-yard field goal.
Kilgore 41, Spring Hill 12
At Panther Stadium, Longview
Kilgore 14 13 14 0 — 41
Spring Hill0 0 0 12 — 12
KIL — Kevrin Justice 40 run (Christian Galvan kick), 10:57
KIL — Justice 28 run (Galvan kick), 7:24
KIL — Justice 4 run (Galvan kick), 4:41
KIL — Xavier Gaona 19 pass to Nick Orange (run failed), 2:51
KIL — Justice 5 run (Galvan kick)
KIL — Jacori Smith 10 run (Galvan kick), :49
SH — Nick McKee 8 run (kick blocked), 4:04
SH —Jacob Rooney 56 pass to Dylan Evans (run failed), :21
First Downs15 10
Rushing yards29-195 30-80
Passing yards135 149