Rebels bounce back with Starkville win

Rebels bounce back with Starkville win


The Leake Academy Rebels got back on track Friday night with a 48-17 victory over Starkville Academy in prep football action.

The Rebels had their 14-game winning streak snapped last week. They used a big-play offense and stingy defense to take the win over homesteading Starkville Academy.

The Rebels improve to 2-1 on the season and will host Union on Friday night in a public versus private school matchup.

“Our kids did a great job,” Leake Academy coach Brian Pickens said. “They did a great job of getting focused on Starkville and had a good week of preparation. It’s a big rivalry game and they played with a lot of effort.”

The Volunteers got on the scoreboard first on a 41-yard touchdown pass with 8:44 left in the first quarter. The PAT was good and Starkville led 7-0.

The Rebels responded with a scoring drive of their own. After a 34-yard completion to Aiden Watkins on fourth down, Whitt Welch scored on a 3-yard run with 7:11 left in the first. Cole Arthur booted the PAT to tie the score at 7-7.

The Volunteers took the lead back as they hit a 42-yard field goal with 4:00 left in the first. But that was the last lead the Volunteers would hold.

After a 38-yard kickoff return by Levi Brown, Atkinson scrambled for a 49-yard run and Canon Parks scored on a 3-yard run with 3:00 left in the first. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake took its first lead at 14-10

After turning the Volunteers over on downs, Leake hit another big play. Quarterback Rhett Atkinson hit Gavin White o a 53-yard touchdown pass with 8:55 left in the second. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 21-10.

The Rebels got the ball right back on a tipped pass by senior linebacker Nick Gomillion that senior cornerback Jackson Freeny returned 28 yards to the Starkville 4.

Two plays later, Atkinson fumbled at the goal line and Parks recovered for a touchdown with 7:21 left in the half. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 28-10. The Rebels got a short field on the next possession as Starkville snapped the ball over the punter's head and were tackled at their own 10. Two plays later, Welch scored on a nine-yard run with 4:37 left in the half. Arthur booted the PAT and Leake led 35-10 at the half.

The Leake defense got in on the action again as Freeny intercepted his second pass of the night and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown with 9:41 left in the third. The PAT failed and Leake led 41-10.

The Rebels then got the clock running after forcing a Starkville punt. The Rebels then went 88 yards on 12 plays as Parks scored on a three-yard run with 4:09 left in the contest. Arthur hit the PAT and Leake led 48-10.

Starkville scored the last points of the game on a 36-yard touchdown pass for the final margin.

Leake Academy had 315 yards of total offense with 228 yards rushing and 87 passing. 

Atkinson was 2-of-4 passing for all 87 yards and the junior quarterback rushed for 59 yards on five carries. Parks had 84 yards rushing on 14 carries and two TDs while Welch had 34 yards on eight carries. 

On defense, Freeny led the defense with six tackles and two interceptions. Jake Brown also had five solo tackles and two assists. Nick Gomillion had three solo tackles and five assists while Gunter Scott had three solo tackles and three assists with 3 1/2 tackles for a loss. Kade Marble and Bryce Watkins each had three solo tackles while Grant Barnes had two tackles and one assist. 

The Rebels will host Union Friday night in their first-ever meeting with an MHSAA public school in football.

After watching film of Union, Pickens was impressed with the Yellowjackets.

“They are very talented,” Pickens said. “The quarterback is a super athlete. He can run and throw and is a threat all by himself. On defense, they really get after the football. They look very physical on both lines. The quarterback has some guys to throw to and you can tell they are a complete all-around football team. It will be another test but we are excited about it.”

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