Season comes to end as Rebels lose to Copiah 33-21
The Leake Academy football team saw its chance at back-to-back state championships come to an end on Friday night.
The Rebels trailed for most of the game as visiting Copiah took a 33-21 win in the semifinals of the MAIS Class 5A playoffs.
Leake finishes the season with a 10-2 record.
“I have to give Copiah a lot of credit; they came out and were very physical,” Leake Coach Brian Pickens said. “You hate to lose one like that. This senior group has won a lot of football games and has had great careers. Copiah just made a few more plays than we did.”
The Rebels got the ball to start the game and drove down the field, putting together a 17-play drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Cole Arthur. With 4:44 left in the first quarter, Leake had a 3-0 lead.
In a preview of things to come, Copiah answered as they scored on their first play from scrimmage on an 80-yard run by Aiden Rogers with 4:30 left in the first. However, the PAT failed and Copiah led 6-3.
After swapping punts, Leake Academy got big runs from Riley Myers of 20 yards and 38 from Rhett Atkinson, who finished off the drive with a 2-yard TD run with 10:37 left in the second quarter. Cole Arthur’s PAT failed and Leake held a 9-6 lead.
After swapping punts again, the Colonels put together a 91-yard drive, which was aided by two big personal fouls on the Leake defense. The Colonels scored on a 4-yard run with 3:33 left in the half to take a 13-9 lead.
Leake responded with a scoring drive of its own. After a big 39-yard pass from Atkinson to Levi Brown, the Rebels scored on a 7-yard run by Myers with 1:14 left in the half. The try for 2 failed and Leake led 15-13.
But Copiah took the momentum back before the half ended. They broke a 70-yard run and scored on a 14-yard pass with 29 seconds left in the half. The try for two failed and Copiah led 19-15 at the half.
“That was a big swing,” Pickens said. “We had them down, and they broke the big run and scored right before the half. We had just scored and had some momentum. I thought that was a big play in the game.”
The two teams swapped punts to start the second half and it was Copiah that struck first as J.D. Weed scored on an 83-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good and Copiah led 26-15.
The Rebels turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and Copiah answered with a six-play, 54-yard drive. Aided by a 41-yard run, Weed finished off the drive with a 2-yard run with 2:50 left in the third. The PAT was good and Copiah led 33-15.
The Rebels responded with a 13-play drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Atkinson to Aiden Watkins with 10:49 left. The try for 2 failed and Copiah led 33-21.
Leake threw two fourth-quarter interceptions as the Colonels held on for the win.
Leake had 363 yards of total offense with 179 yards rushing and 184 passing. Atkinson was 11-of-28, passing for 174 yards and one TD. The junior quarterback also led the rushing attack with 105 yards on 16 carries. Canon Parks had 47 yards on 15 carries, while Riley Myers had 27 yards on three carries and four catches for 45 yards. Watkins had four catches for 79 yards, while Levi Brown had three catches for 50 yards.
Leake allowed 474 yards of offense to Copiah with 450 rushing and 24 passing. Bryce Watkins led the Leake defense with eight solo tackles and two assists, while Kade Marble had four solo tackles and two assists. Riley Myers had three solo tackles and three assists, while Nick Gomillion had three solo tackles and two assists. Jarod Sims had two solo tackles and two assists, while Jackson Freeny had three solo tackles. Gunter Scott had two solo tackles and one assist, while Whitt Welch had Jake Brown each had two solo tackles.