Rebel defense holds back explosive offense
Leake Academy football coach Brian Pickens said all along that Madison St. Joseph would be a challenge for his team.
Pickens was right as the Rebels scored 24 unanswered points to take a 27-7 win over the Bruins on Friday night for homecoming.
The Rebels are now 6-1 on the season and will host East Rankin on Friday night for senior night.
Pickens said the Bruins gave the Rebels a stern test, especially in the secondary.
“They were very talented,” Pickens said. “Watching them on film, you could tell it was going to be a challenge for us, especially in the secondary. We knew they would throw it more than anybody else we had played. Our defense came in with a good scheme and the secondary did a good job. After that one big play, we were able to keep them at bay.”
The Rebels got the ball to start the game and put together an 11-play drive that eventually stalled at the St. Joseph 8. Cole Arthur then booted a 25-yard field goal with 6:22 left in the first to give Leake a 3-0 lead.
The Bruins answered right back as a short pass completion turned into a 79-yard touchdown pass with 5:38 left in the first. The PAT was good and St. Joseph led 7-3.
The Rebels put together a seven-play, 58-yard drive. Canon Parks scored on a seven-yard touchdown run with 2:58 left in the first quarter. Arthur booted the PAT and Leake led 10-7.
The Rebels punted on their next two possessions and added a 27-yard field goal from Arthur to take a 13-7 lead at the half.
“Our offensive line did a good job,” Pickens said. “From film, we knew we were going to get multiple fronts and thought we were going to see a lot of blitzes. But they didn’t blitz all night and made some changes so we had to make some adjustments. We controlled the game upfront. They ran a little more than they had and we controlled the defensive front as well.”
The Bruins got the ball to start the second half and put together a 15-play drive that eventually ended on an interception by Kade Marble.
Parks then ripped off a 62-yard run and Whitt Welch finished off the drive with a 17-yard run with 3:16 left in the third. Arthur booted the extra point and Leake led 20-7.
The Rebels added one last score in the fourth quarter as they drove 51 yards on nine plays. Rhett Atkinson scored on a six-yard run with 7:00 left in the game. Arthur’s PAT gave Leake a 27-7 lead.
The Rebels had 344 yards of total offense with 327 rushing and 17 passing.
Parks led the offense with 152 yards on 22 carries while Atkinson had 93 yards on 15 carries. Welch rushed for 82 yards on 12 carries.
On defense, Riley Myers led the Rebels with six solo tackles and three assists. Nick Gomillion had five solo tackles and four assists while Bryce Watkins had four solo tackles and one assist and an interception. Ethan Dunn had two solo tackles and three assists while Kade Marble had two solos and one assist with one interception.
The Rebels will finish out a three-game homestand this week as they host East Rankin in another district contest.
The Patriots are 3-4 on the season. After a forfeit win against Oak Hill to open the season, East Rankin beat Columbia 10-8. They then lost three in a row, falling 48-0 to Madison St. Joseph, 41-8 to Park Place and 43-0 to Ethel. After a 20-14 win over West Lincoln, East Rankin lost 44-0 last week to Lamar.
“They played us really hard last year, as hard as anybody,” Pickens said of East Rankin. “I think they will come in with the same level of competitiveness this year. It seems like East Rankin plays us hard every year. The most important thing is it’s a conference game and these are the games that are important. These are our in-season playoff games and we will have to practice hard and work on the things that we need to work on.”