LA Rebels advance to second round
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 12:00 AM
The Leake Academy Rebels have officially taken the next step.
After losing in the first round of the Class AA playoffs the last two seasons, the Rebels got the playoff monkey off their back with a resounding 35-0 shutout of Riverfield, La., on Friday night at E.L. Thaggard Field.
With the win, the Rebels improve to 8-3 on the season and advance in the Class AA playoffs where they will travel to Indianola Academy on Friday. Indianola is 11-1 on the season and coming off a rugged 14-7 overtime win over Winona Christian in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Rebels, it was the second straight 35-0 win for the team and one of the season's most complete victories with 335 yards of total offense and giving up 121 yards on defense.
"No. 1, you get a playoff win and that's a big win," Leake coach Brian Pickens said. "It was a good win for the program. We have made it to the postseason the last two years and got beat in the first round. So it's big for this group to go out and get us into the postseason win column."
Pickens was particularly impressed with the week of practice heading into the game.
"I thought the preparation this week was as good as any I have seen," Pickens said. "The kids were focused in practice in understanding it's just one game, one play at a time. And then they executed like that on Friday night."
After pinning the visiting Raiders deep on the first drive, Leake got the ball at the Riverfield 35-yard line. From there, the Rebels needed six plays as Taylor Nazary scored on a 9-yard run with 8:05 left in the first quarter. John Forrest Sisson booted the PAT and Leake led 7-0.
After another defensive stand, the Rebels put another first-quarter score on the board. This time, the Rebels drove 56 yards in 11 plays as Nazary scored on a 2-yard run with 20 seconds left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
The Rebels added a third first-half touchdown on a nine-play, 87-yard drive. The big play on the drive was a 40-yard reception by Dylan Bobo that set the ball up at the 2-yard line. Joshua Jones bulled in from 2 yards with 6:46 left in the first half as Leake led 21-0 at the half.
"I thought we had a good defensive effort," Pickens said. "They have improved throughout the year. When we had injuries on offense, they understood that they had to step up and make great defensive efforts on every play and they have done that. We just have to keep that intensity going."
The Rebels got the opening kick in the second half and scored quickly as Alex Shepard hit Sisson on a 57-yard touchdown pass with 10:11 left in the third quarter.
Nazary added the last score on a 4-yard run to complete a 7-play, 56-yard drive with 3:34 left in the third.
Leake had 335 yards of total offense on the night, with 233 on the ground.
Nazary had 145 yards rushing on 21 carries with three TDs while Jones had 73 yards on 14 carries.
Shepard had 102 yards passing on 3-of-3 passing.