The away sideline and visitors’ bleachers sat in hushed disbelief and concern as Khamari Alexander, senior running back, lay motionless and surrounded by paramedics.
The scoreboard clock read 6:25 remaining in the second quarter, but no one was reading it.
Five minutes of silence finally broke when Alexander was transported off the field in a stretcher, raising a lone fist to the crowd and a chilling roar of support. By game’s end, he had been diagnosed with a dislocated knee – albeit not the broken leg that was originally feared – which would sideline him for the next six to seven weeks, at minimum.
It was simply not a night in which good fortune went the Pride’s way.
Bolstered by a whopping five touchdowns from running back Isaiah Totten, an unstoppable rushing attack powered Apex to a 44-14 win over Leesville on Thursday.
Taking a 24-14 lead out of halftime, the host Cougars (2-0) delivered a dagger to the visiting Pride (1-1) with a six-yard touchdown run to open up a decisive 31-14 lead with 1:31 left in the third quarter.
Two more rushing scores in the fourth quarter further changed the score from decisive to dominant.
“We’ve just got to get better,” said Mike Hobgood, upset after the loss in his first road game as Leesville head coach. “When you’ve got a whole new staff and new blocking schemes…it takes some time to gel.”
Totten shredded the defense for 205 yards on 29 carries, almost quadrupling Leesville’s entire team rushing total – 58 yards – by himself.
Both sides scored their opening touchdowns within the first three minutes of the game, but Apex had captured a 17-7 advantage by the time of Alexander’s injury.
Also missing primary running back Mike Dehaney, senior, due to a family issue, Leesville was thus forced to pass for most of the rest of the game.
The Pride briefly cut the deficit to just three points when Elisiah Richardson, senior, broke a toss play outside for his second touchdown with 3:54 left in the half. However, the Cougars answered with a 46-yard run from quarterback Grayson Boyd to claim a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.
Clay Vick, junior quarterback, completed 20 of 31 attempts for 233 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. In his first two varsity starts, the 6’3” signal-caller has already thrown for 474 yards and four scores.
“We threw it OK,” said Hobgood, “but we’ll try to be a little more balanced in a game when [we’re] not behind and have all of our weapons.”
Richardson reeled in five catches for 106 yards for Leesville. “There’s always room for improvement everywhere on the field,” he said, noting blocking and route-running as areas of particular concern.
“We could’ve played a much better game.”
Leesville football will hope to bounce back when they host Athens Drive (1-1) at Hamilton Stadium on Friday, Sept. 12.
The Pride won last year’s meeting 39-3; the Jaguars defeated Broughton 28-27 on Thursday to enter next week on a one-game winning streak.