PALESTINE – The Palestine football team forced seven second turnovers, including five interceptions, and scored 20 points to surge past Chapel Hill 34-9 in a District 9-4A-I game at Wildcat Stadium.
Palestine defensive end Joshua Williams recovered a fumble by Chapel Hill punter Flavio Campos with 6:38 left in the third quarter to give Palestine a 21-9 lead. Williams also had the fifth interception with 5:12 remaining, returning the pick 55 yards for a touchdown. Williams also had 11 tackles, four for losses, and a sack.
The win keeps Palestine (5-3, 2-2 in 9-4A-I) in postseason contention heading into a pivotal game at Carthage next Friday. The loss probably killed postseason hopes for Chapel Hill (2-7, 1-4).
Palestine's Hamilton brothers, Kameron and Karnelius, also had big games for the Wildcats. Kameron Hamilton had two interceptions to go with six tackles. Karnelius Hamilton had an interception and a fumble recovery. Roderick Deyon had two forced fumbles for Palestine while Quinn Tinley also had an interception.
One of Kameron Hamilton's picks, with 2:10 left in the third quarter, helped set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Claude Rodgers to Edward Reese with 27 seconds left in the third quarter to give Palestine a 28-9 lead. Rodgers was just 5-for-17 passing, but two of his passes went for touchdowns.
Good field position helped Palestine take a 14-0 lead. A 23-yard punt would give Palestine the ball at the Chapel Hill 40-yard line on its second drive and Irric Deyon ran it in from six yards to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 48 seconds left int the first quarter. Deyon, who had 312 yards rushing against Bullard two weeks ago, had 71 yards rushing on nine carries in the first half and finished with 120 yards.
A sack by Jakobe Pursley pinned Chapel Hill deep on its next possession and set up Palestine at the Chapel Hill 36-yard line. Rodgers connected with Jhamonte Milton for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 9:45 left in the second quarter.
Palestine had control of the game for most of the first half, but Chapel Hill rallied in the final two minutes to cut the Wildcats' lead to 14-9.
With 1:50 left in the second a bad snap over the head of punter Tyler Gray forced Palestine to give up a safety. On the ensuing possession the Bulldogs marched 57 yards and got a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jaxon Heckel to Blake Harris with nine seconds left in the first half. Two plays before the touchdown Palestine forced two fumbles on the same pass play, but the Bulldogs recovered each time with Harris making the second recovery at the Palestine 1-yard line.
Andrian Miner rushed for 62 yards for Chapel Hill while Cale Caruthers led the defense of the Bulldogs with seven tackles, three for losses, with two sacks and a forced fumble.
Palestine will conclude its regular season hosting Henderson on Nov. 4. Chapel Hill has bye next week before concluding its season hosting Carthage on Nov. 4