With the Spartans trailing 34-31 after a late Plaquemine touchdown, the LSU commit went back to field the ensuing kickoff. Plaquemine hadn't kicked it to him all game, but on this instance, he was the only player back to return.
Palelei muffed it at first, letting it bounce off him and roll back to his own five. He ran back to gather it up and beat the initial wave of defenders. He ran into a mass of tacklers around the 25-yard line, but every player failed in his attempt to bring him down.
Even a facemask wasn't enough.
Palelei emerged out of that huddle, stretched it out to the left sideline and sprinted the rest of the way for the go-ahead touchdown.
"As soon as I got it, I saw a hole," Palelei said. "I took it and when they grabbed me, I thought they'd have me. But I slipped off and I bounced out. Once I saw three teammates ahead of me, leading me, I knew I just had to keep running."
That return was the perfect exclamation point for the start of his senior season. Palelei had 199 rushing yards on 16 carries (good for 12.4 yards per attempt) and a pair of rushing touchdowns. He had long runs of 24, 25, 27 and 36 yards.
"I just had to keep moving faster," Palalei said. "That's they key to keep our offense moving and make the defense tired. That's what we had to do."
As exciting an opener it was for Palelei, it was the opposite for a fellow LSU prospect on the other sideline. Davon Godchaux, one of the top DL targets on LSU's board, went down with a knee injury on the second defensive series of the game.
Godchaux — who will announce his college decision on December 28 — lines up as a nose tackle for Plaquemine, and recorded one tackle before going down. By the end of the game, he was able to walk around under his own power, but clearly favoring that right leg.
While the end of Godchaux's recruitment is still ahead of him, Palelei has that in his rearview mirror. He picked up his LSU offer during the Tigers' Elite Camp in July and didn't wait long to make his commitment.
Palelei said he'll try to attend every one of LSU's home games this year, including the one Saturday against UAB. He said he doesn't know when his official visit will come, but it will probably happen during the season.
But Palelei does know why it was so easy to pick LSU when the opportunity came.
"I can stay home and I may have more of an opportunity to play," Palelei said. "I'm a momma's boy. I just can't leave."
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Notes from East Ascension vs. Plaquemine