Leake Academy loses to Starkville Academy in playoffs

Leake Academy loses to Starkville Academy in playoffs


After losing 30-3 to Starkville Academy in week two of the season, it was a totally different game in the second round of the MAIS Class 5A playoffs for the Leake Academy Rebels.

But the results were the same.

Starkville Academy withstood an aerial assault by the Rebels and pulled away with two late scores to take a 41-31 win over Leake Academy on Friday night. 

The Rebels ended the season with a 5-7 record while Starkville improved to 9-2.

Leake coach Brian Pickens gave Starkville all they wanted, especially in the air as they attempted 67 passes, which is just two shy of the state record.

“First off, our kids played hard,” Pickens said. “We trailed most of the game and were down by 11 at one point battled back to take the lead. I thought our kids showed a lot of heart. But in the end, Starkville just made more plays that we did. George did what he does and we probably threw it more than I really like. Again, give Starkville credit because they are really good on defense and took away the long ball. After starting 0-4, it you would have told me that we would be in a second-round playoff game with a fourth-quarter lead against the No. 1 seed, it would have taken it. I don’t think we could have asked any more out of our kids.” 

Starkville got the ball to start the game and drove 60 yards in seven plays and scored on a 9-yard run with 8:13 left in the first quarter to go up 7-0.

Leake answered as they marched down the field, using a short-passing game and capped off the drive with a 4-yard run by Wilcox with 5:13 left in the first quarter. Matthew Nowell’s PAT was blocked and Starkville led 7-6.

Starkville answered with a 75-yard drive and scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 2:39 left in the first quarter to extend the lead to 14-6 after the PAT.

Leake again marched down the field on the Volunteers as Wilcox called his own number again on a 2-yard run with two seconds left in the first. Nowell’s PAT was good and Starkville led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Starkville again used a long drive and scored on a 2-yard run with 7:50 left in the in the first half. The PAT failed and Starkville led 20-13.

Leake put together a long drive before the half after being pinned at their own 5. But the Rebels had to settle for a 24-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the half and trailed 20-16 at the half. 

Leake punted on its first two possessions of the second half and scored on an 18-yard quarterback keeper with 7:25 left in the third to extend the lead to 27-16. 

Leake answered with another long drive as they scored on another short run by Wilcox with 2:38 left in the third. The Rebels converted the two-point conversion as Wilcox threw a backward pass to Nowell who then threw to Matthan Weaver in the end zone for the score to cut the lead to 27-24.

The score stayed at 27-24 until Leake dug deep in the playbook midway through the fourth. After a big stop on fourth down, Leake hit a big play as Weaver took a handoff and then pitched back to Wilcox who hit Nowell on a 44-yard touchdown pass with 6:32 left in the game. The PAT was good and Leake took its first lead at 31-27.

But the lead was short lived as Starkville scored in two plays to go ahead 34-31 on a 22-yard run with 5:59 left in the game. After getting a stop on defense, Starkville tackled on a late score with 1:31 left in the game on a 33-yard run for the final margin of 41-31.

Leake had 434 yards of total offense with 403 passing and 31 rushing while Starkville had 337 rushing and 122 passing for 459 yards of total offense.

Wilcox was 38-of-67 passing for 403 yards with one TD and two interceptions. The sophomore finished the season with 3,112 yards passing with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Nowell had 13 catches for 177 yards to put him at 1,251 yards on 68 catches with 13 touchdowns. Matthan Weaver had 11 catches for 94 yards while Ben Jackson had seven catches for 71 yards. Weaver finished with 60 catches of 872 yards and six TDs while Jackson had 50 catches for 753 yards and six TDs. 

“I feel like the future’s bright,” Pickens said. “We were really young on both sides of the ball this season. We bring back most everybody on both sides of the ball so we have a lot of young kids with playing experience.” 

Camden Marble led the Leake defense with 10 tackles while Coby Kemp had 8.5 tackles. Jack Harkins had five tackles while Grayson McDonald had four tackles. Hagan Bobo and Charlie Brantley each had three tackles apiece. 

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