Sep. 18—PALESTINE — A near 200-yard game from Taj'Shawn Wilson helped the Palestine Wildcats come away with a 31-22 win over the Waco Connally Cadets Friday.
Underdogs to most, Palestine entered Friday's matchup as 10 point underdog to the Cadets. However, winners are determined on the field. And Palestine seemed destined to prove that on their first drive of the game.
A mix of runs from Shedrick Dudley and Taj'Shawn Wilson landed the Wildcats in Cadet territory. Their nine-play drive was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run from Dudley.
The ensuing extra point was blocked and returned for two points by Waco Connally's Tre Wisner.
Palestine continued to show early aggression with a surprise onside kick that they were able to recover. However, set up at midfield, the Cadets forced Palestine into a three-and-out. The Cadets offense did little with their first drive and punted after three plays.
Leading 6-2, Palestine took over at midfield once again. Palestine's offense continued to control the game clock. Seven consecutive run calls set up a nine-yard Wilson touchdown. The ensuing extra point try was no good as the Wildcats took a 12-2 lead into the second quarter.
With momentum surging in the direction of the home team, Waco Connally attempted to forge a scoring drive. They failed on a third-and-1 attempt, but responded with a fourth-down conversion.
Two plays later, Jelani McDonald connected with Jack Johnston for a 31-yard completion. Johnston proceeded to fumble the ball inside the 10-yard line, but was able to recover the pill in the back of the end zone before it rolled out for a touchback.
The bizarre sequence sat the score at 12-9 following the extra point.
It only took Palestine four plays to create a response. Jerrod Walker found Ti Crawford down the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown. Palestine led 18-9.
The rapid fire scoring continued as Tre Lisner returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
The back-and-forth action came to a grinding halt when the Wildcats took over on their 32 with 5:48 left until half. Five of their first six plays were designed runs to Wilson who helped them convert a fourth-and-4 in Cadet territory.
Four plays, on third-and-12, they called his number once more as he sprinted off right tackle for a 27-yard touchdown run. The 10-play drive melted the clock down to 52 seconds, which left the Cadets with no time to compile a drive.
The first three drives of the second half ended in punts. Palestine's second drive of the half began at Waco's 40. Elijah Walker began the drive with a 25-yard run down to the WHS 15. Four plays later, a designed quarterback sneak turned into a six-yard touchdown run for Walker.
Waco Connally put themselves right back into striking distance after an 88-yard run from McDonald set up a six-yard touchdown run from Germone Powell. Palestine's special teams unit came rushing through on the PAT for the block.
The Wildcats punted on their next drive, which set the Cadets up on their own 43. The drive saw the Cadets squander three different touchdown opportunities. The first coming on an overthrow to Wisner across the middle.
The second coming on a 28-yard strike to Jylon Nobles that was nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and holding. It forced Waco Connally into a first-and-33.
The final came on a fourth-and-long jump ball to Nobles that was dropped in the back of the endzone. A huge 49-yard run from Wilson on third-and-3 gave Palestine a chance to extend its lead.
However, Walker was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 QB sneak call on their two-yard line. However, three consecutive incompletions on second, third and fourth down ended the series and the game for them.
Wilson finished with 195 yards and two rushing scores on 23 carries.