PALESTINE -- The Palestine Wildcats (3-5, 1-2), plagued by their worst offensive output of the season Friday night, fell 43-0 to the state-ranked Carthage Bulldogs at home.
Five three-and-outs, along with a fumbled snap, helped lead Palestine to a 27-0 deficit at half.
“We're never going to look back on this with a good feeling, coach Lance Angel said. “The next two are the ones that matter for us to reach our goal of making the playoffs.”
Carthage wasted little time jumping out in front. On the first possession of the contest, the Bulldogs' four-play touchdown drive was capped off by a 69-yard touchdown pass to Kelvontay Dixon.
Palestine looked to establish their run game early with Jeremiah Davis on their first series. Davis took his first handoff six yards, his longest run of the game.
His was stuffed on his next two handoffs, forcing Palestine to punt.
Starting on their 25-yard line, Carthage began a lengthy drive.
Facing a fourth-and-three inside their own 30, CHS gambled and converted the fourth-down attempt on a 15-yard pass.
Their drive continued down inside the Palestine 10-yard line, until a holding call put them on the PHS 17. Once again, they opted to go for it on fourth down, but failed on a sack-fumble from the Wildcat's defensive front.
Palestine failed to capitalize on the defensive stop and was forced to punt in three plays.
Set up on the PHS 47, Carthage needed only five plays before Dixon's second-touchdown reception extended their lead to 13. The ensuing extra-point attempt was good.
Forced to punt again, Palestine's defense continued to show resiliency on the Bulldog's ensuing drive. Back-to-back sacks by Elvin Calhoun forced a turnover on downs, halting the drive after 16 plays.
Unfortunately, Palestine's offensive woes continued, as they fumbled on their first snap.
“We have some mistakes we have to clean up,” Angel said. “We know we're a good football team. I have to do a better job coaching.”
The turnover set Carthage up on the PHS 28, leading them to touchdown number three on a 24-yard pass to Kel Williams.
The Bulldogs would complete one final touchdown drive before half, putting them up, 27-0.
Similar to the first two quarters, Palestine's opening third-quarter drive ended in a three-and-out. The defense held against another fourth-down attempt from the Bulldogs, but it forced the Palestine offense to begin on their 8-yard line.
A pair of negative plays resulted in a safety for the Wildcats on a Christian Hutchinson sack. The blunder handed the ball back to the Bulldogs, as they looked to place a strong capper on their divisional game.
A solid kickoff return allowed them to start in enemy territory, before extended their lead to 36-0. The Bulldogs pulled together one final touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, handing Palestine its first back-to-back losses since weeks one and two.
“This does nothing to affect our chances at playoffs,” Angel said. Obviously, we feel like we can play better, but Carthage is a good football team. It's back to work [Saturday].
Next week, Palestine plays its final home district game of the season against Kilgore.