ENNIS — Despite spotting 10th-ranked Waco La Vega a 21-0 cushion in the first half, the Palestine Wildcats pulled themselves back into the game during the third quarter Friday at Lion Memorial Stadium.
Then, La Vega closed the door, and beat the Wildcats, 35-20.
La Vega (11-0) moves on to face No. 1 Chapel Hill (11-0) in an area matchup at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bowers Stadium on the campus of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.
Palestine ends its season at 7-4.
After Palestine cut the La Vega lead to 21-14 on a one-yard run by quarterback Brian Gummelt on the last play of the third quarter, La Vega drove the ball 70 yards to put things away, capped off by a 10-yard run by running back Randy Gober.
Javon Arnett ran for 42 yards on the drive on only two carries, and La Vega rattled off another touchdown later in the fourth.
Arnett ran for a game-high 117 yards in the game along with two touchdowns, including the Pirates final touchdown of the night.
La Vega opened up the games scoring by converting a fourth-and-10 from the Palestine 30-yard-line into a touchdown when quarterback Marcus Evans hit Anthony Mitchell with a perfect pass in the back corner of the end zone.
La Vega scored on its next drive as well, when Evans hit Brandon Cheezum for a 13-yard touchdown.
Palestine gained only 64 yards in the first half and never moved the ball into La Vega territory.
Palestine opened the second half scoring with a Gummelt touchdown pass to Nico Barnard on a seam route.
Gummelt-to-Barnard was a strong connection on the night, as Barnard caught five of Gummelt’s nine passes for 71 yards and that score.
The pair also hooked up for a 10-yard completion on fourth-and-seven late in the third quarter. That conversion set up Gummelt’s one-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-14.
Late in the game, Gummelt hooked up with Jordan Anthony for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Gummelt finished the game 9-of-21 passing for 138 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Palestine ran for only 95 yards in the game, led by Jarrell Owens’ 57. Donte Brown had 45.
For La Vega, Gober pitched in 83 yards.