Rebels hold on to take 28-21 win over Simpson County Academy
After losing three straight games, many might have counted the Leake Academy football team out as they prepared for top-ranked Simpson County Academy.
But the Rebels had other plans in mind.
The Rebels jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead but needed a late drive as Whitt Welch scored the last of his four touchdowns with 33 seconds left in the game to take a 28-21 win over the Cougars on Friday night.
Leake improved to 2-3 on the season and will be off next week after Park Place forfeited the remainder of the season.
Leake Academy coach Brian Pickens said his team showed a lot of heart and determination to come away with the win.
“It was a tremendous effort by our kids,” Pickens said. “We played about as well as we could in the first half,” Pickens said. “We had a chance to put it away and they stopped us at the 1-yard line. Then Simpson took the lead and most people thought we were done.
“But Whitt (Welch) took the game in his hands and completed four passes and scored to take the win. We had a lot of injuries and it was a great team win. Simpson is a really good football team and with everything we were facing, that’s as good of a win as we have had in a long time.”
The Cougars got the ball to start the game and were forced to punt after getting one first down.
From the 50, the Rebels went driving for more than eight minutes, going 13 plays on the legs of Welch and Jake Brown. Welch capped off the drive with a 3-yard run with 2:38 left in the first quarter. Matthew Nowell hit the PAT and Leake led 7-0.
The Rebels got the ball back again on a short field on an interception by Riley Myers with 1:18 left in the first. The Rebels then went 43 yards in 12 plays as Welch scored on a 1-yard run with 6:57 left in the second quarter.
Leake forced another punt and got a 14-yard return from Charlie Brantley to set the ball at the Simpson 40. The Rebels then went the 40 yards in 10 plays as Welch scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down with 7 seconds left in the half. The PAT failed and Leake led 20-0 at the half.
The game started to turn in the third quarter. Leake got the ball to start the third but fumbled on their first play of the half to give Simpson the ball Leake 13. Three plays later, Carter Cockrell scored on a 6-yard run with 10:31 left in the third. The PAT was good and Leake held a 20-7 lead.
Leake put together another long drive, going 17 plays and eating up more than eight minutes of clock. But the drive ended when Leake was unable to score on two tries from the 1-yard line.
The Cougars then put together a 14-play drive as they found the end zone with a 32-yard touchdown pass with 5:51 left in the game. The PAT was good and Leake led 20-14.
Leake was forced to punt on its next possession and gave Simpson the ball at their own 32 with 3:49 left in the game. The Cougars then went 68 yards in seven plays as Cockrell got loose on a 55-yard touchdown run with 2:11 left in the game. The PAT was good and Simpson claimed a 21-20 lead.
Leake then went 75 yards in five plays. The Rebels opened the drive with a 42 yard pass from Welch to Aiden Watkins. After a 4-yard completion to Benjamin Jackson, Welch hit a diving Mathan Weaver for 16 yards. Welch then hit Jackson again on a 12-yard gainer to the 1-yard line. Welch then scored on a 1-yard plunge with 33 seconds left in the game for the go-ahead score. Welch also ran in the two-point conversion and Leake led 28-21.
The Rebels had 257 yards of total offense with 168 yards rushing on 57 carries while throwing for 89 yards.
Welch had 68 yards rushing on 24 carries while Jake Brown had 63 yards on 22 carries. Myers had 32 yards on eight carries.
Welch was 4-for-4 passing for 74 yards, all on the game-winning drive. Aiden Watkins had one catch for 42 yards while Benjamin Jackson had two catches for 16 yards. Mathan Weaver also had one catch for 16 yards. Freshman George Wilco was 2-for-2 passing for 15 yards, both completions for first downs.
Dylan Jones led the Leake defense with five solo tackles and five assists with one tackle for loss. Bryce Watkins had five solo tackles and three assists while Riley Myers had five assists and an interception. Brown, Grayson McDonald, Jarod Sims and Camden Marble all had two tackles apiece while Lucas Thomas and Bishop Hardin each had 1.5 tackles apiece.