Starvkville Academy turns interceptions into points
After a tough 10-6 loss to Jackson Academy, Leake Academy hoped to bounce back last week against Starkville Academy.
But five interceptions by the Rebels dashed any of those hopes as the Volunteers built a 21-0 lead and cruised to a 39-7 win at A.L. Thaggard Field.
Leake falls to 1-2 on the season and will make the short trip to Union on Friday night to take on the 1-1 Yellowjackets.
It was a disappointing loss for the Rebels.
“I give Starkville a lot of credit,” Coach Brian Pickens said. “They came in with a good game plan. They did some things we haven’t seen and we weren’t able to get off the field on defense. I thought we missed too many tackles and the turnovers hurt. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up this week.”
The Volunteers got the ball to start the game and were forced to punt on their first series. But Leake threw an interception on its first play from scrimmage. The Volunteers then went 10 plays and scored on a 3-yard run by Charlie Nicholas with 5:13 left in the first quarter. The PAT was good and Starkville led 7-0.
The Rebels went to the ground on their second drive to get into Starkville territory. But they were intercepted again. Three plays later, Luke McKenzie hit Drew Williams on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left in the first quarter to go up 14-0.
After the Rebels were forced to punt on its next possession, the Volunteers went 66 yards in 15 plays and scored on a 2-yard pass from Brigg Bennett to Drew Williams with 5:47 left in the half. The PAT failed and Starkville led 20-0.
The Rebels responded with a long scoring drive of their own, mostly on the legs of Whitt Welch. The Rebels went 59 yards in nine plays as Welch scored on a 22-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left in the first half. Matthew Nowell hit the PAT and Starkville led 20-7.
But the Volunteers crushed any thoughts of a comeback as Nicholas returned the ensuing kick 90 yards for a touchdown. The Volunteers converted the two-point attempt and led 28-7 at the half.
“That was a huge play in the game,” Pickens said. “We had just scored and were getting the ball to start the second half. I felt like if we could have went in at 20-7 and then gotten a score to start the third, it would have been a different game.”
Leake got to the Starkville 26 before turning the ball over on downs to start the third. They were intercepted on their next possession. The Volunteers then hit another big pass play as Bennett hit Wyatt Buice for a 56-yard touchdown pass with 3:02 left in the third. The try for two was good and Starkville led 36-7.
The Volunteers added a 22-yard field goal with 8:26 left in the fourth for the final margin.
Starkville outgained Leake 380-167 in the contest as the Volunteers had 235 yards passing and 145 rushing. Leake had 115 passing and 52 passing for 167 total yards. Starkville had 21 first downs to 10 for Leake.
Welch finished the night with 114 yards on 24 carries while Wilcox was 4-of-13 for 52 yards with five interceptions. Aiden Watkins had all four catches for 52 yards.
On defense, Bryce Watkins led the Leake defense with six solo tackles and five assists. Charlie Brantley had six solo tackles and two assists while Jake Brown had 5.5 tackles. Dylan Jones had five tackles while Riley Myers had 4.5 tackles. Jake Adams had 3.5 tackles while Jarod Sims had three tackles.