Injury turns game as Rebels take victory
For a quarter and a half, the Leake and Union football game lived up to all of the hype.
But then Union quarterback Kenyon Clay went down with an ankle injury.
The Rebels then scored 35 unanswered points and rolled to a 48-13 win over the Yellowjackets in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Leake Academy improves to 3-1 on the season and will travel to Simpson County Academy on Saturday to open district play. Union falls to 1-2 on the season and will host Newton County Friday.
“Our kids came out with a lot of intensity and executed well,” Leake coach Brian Pickens said. “We scored on every possession in the first half. You could tell the kids were excited and played with a lot of energy and effort. And I thought our defense played really well. They really only gave up the one play and we knew (Clay) was going to make plays.”
It was the exact opposite for Union coach Jordan Wren, who saw his team’s best player go down with an ankle injury in the middle of the second quarter.
“It was a good game until Kenyon got hurt,” Wren said. “Once he got hurt, the air went out of our sails. Any time you take the best player and put a freshman in there, it’s going to be a drop-off. The same thing happened last year when he went out. It was just one of those nights.”
After forcing Union to punt on its first possession, Leake went 61 yards in eight plays. Canon Parks ripped off a big 26-yard run and finished it off with a three-yard run with 4:31 left in the first quarter. Cole Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 7-0 early.
The Yellowjackets answered right back as Clay returned the ensuing kick 99 yards for a touchdown. The try for two failed and Leake led 7-6 with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
The Rebels then went 65 yards in 10 plays as Rhett Atkinson hit Riley Myers on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. The PAT failed and Leake led 13-7.
The Yellowjackets again answered right back when Clay scrambled and hit Kaleb Casey on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 9:53 left in the second quarter. The PAT was good and Union tied the game at 13-13.
The Rebels then went 45 yards in six plays. After a big 36-yard completion to Levi Brown, Atkinson hit the Leake Academy senior on a five-yard touchdown pass with 7:11 left in the second quarter. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 20-13.
On Union’s next possession, Clay was tackled on third down and went out for the night with an ankle injury.
Things went downhill for Union quickly at that point. The Rebels got the ball on the Union 28 after a short punt. Three plays later, Atkinson hit Aiden Watkins on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 3:30 left in the first half. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 27-13.
Union went three and out on offense and Leake quickly moved down the field on offense. Parks ripped off runs of 17 and 21 yards. Then Atkinson finished off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Riley Myers with 1:04 left in the first half. Arthur’s PAT was good and Leake led 34-13 at the half.
The Rebels got the ball to open the second half and went 60 yards in eight plays behind the running of Parks and Whitt Welch. Atkinson finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run with 9:17 left in the third. Arthur’s PAT was good and Leake led 41-13.
A series of personal fouls on Rebels moved Union to the Leake 10. But the Leake defense held and took over on their own 5. From there, Parks ripped off runs of 15 and 20 yards and went 95 yards in 10 plays as Welch scored on a seven-yard run for the Rebels with 11:42 left in the fourth. Arthur’s PAT was good and Leake led 48-13.
Leake Academy had 430 yards of total offense with 155 yards passing and 275 rushing. Atkinson was 10-of-16 passing for 155 yards and four TDs. Parks led the rushing attack with 129 yards on 11 carries while Welch had 90 yards on 20 carries. Myers had six catches for 77 yards and two TDs while Brown had two catches for 41 yards and Watkins had two catches for 37 yards.
Nick Gomillion led the Leake defense with two solo tackles and seven assists. Kade Marble had four solo tackles and two assists while Ethan Dunn had one solo and six assists. Jake Brown also had an interception for the Rebels.
Union had just 132 yards of total offense with 42 yards rushing on 24 carries while throwing for 90 yards on 7-of-13 attempts.
Clay was 5-of-5 passing for 80 yards and a TD. Carlos Hickmon had 21 yards rushing on 10 carries while Xavier Boler had 19 yards rushing on five attempts.
Hickmon led the Union defense with nine tackles while Eli Rigdon had seven stops. Ky’Yon Harris had six tackles while Cameron Hickman had five stops. Tank Haralson, William Hughlett and A.J. Wilson each had four tackles.