For the second consecutive game, the Leesville offense failed to create any momentum or find the endzone, cursing the Pride to a 14-3 loss to Heritage on Friday, Sept. 26 at Hamilton Stadium.
In the past two weeks combined, the unit has accumulated just 13 total first downs, 306 yards and three points.
“Offensively, we’re just so inexperienced,” said Mike Hobgood, head coach, after the game. “We’ve got players there; we’ve just got to…mesh it together somehow.”
A 43-yard run by Mike Dehaney, senior running back, set up a 26-yard Ben Grant field goal with 3:44 left in the first quarter. The resulting three points on the scoreboard would remain unchanged throughout the remainder of the game.
Heritage scored what would eventually prove to be the winning score with 16.4 seconds remaining in the quarter. Facing a 4th-and-7 at the 27-yard line, quarterback Blake Walters found receiver Gershom Ejoni diving into the endzone for the touchdown pass.
The two defenses dominated the entire remainder of the contest. Leesville’s back end stopped the visiting Huskies on three different fourth downs inside Pride territory, while Heritage’s defense held the hosts to a mere two first downs through the first three quarters combined.
Heritage (4-1, 1-0) took a decisive two-possession lead late in the third quarter when Bod Davis returned a Leesville punt 50 yards for a touchdown. The Pride (2-3, 0-1) had a chance to finally break into the endzone during the game’s final minute, but four consecutive pass attempts by Clay Vick, junior quarterback, fell incomplete.
The Pride defense held the Huskies’ offense to a season-low seven points and 166 total yards (Leesville actually out-gained Heritage, 187-166, for the game).
Jordan Moore, junior receiver and safety, intercepted a pass on the first play of the game and expressed satisfaction with the unit’s overall performance. “I think the defense came out [and] executed,” he said.
Moore also led Leesville with 59 yards on three receptions, while Elisiah Richardson, senior receiver, caught four balls for 30 yards in his return from an ankle injury. Vick completed 13 of 32 passes for 123 yards and one interception; Dehaney rushed 13 times for 56 yards. For Heritage, Walters completed seven of 16 attempts for 68 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and running back Issac Burton rushed 17 times for 55 yards.
Burton went down with a seemingly serious injury with 8:51 left in the third quarter. After a 20-minute stoppage, he was stretchered motionless off the field and into an awaiting ambulance. He did not return to the field, but FM 99.9’s James Alverson reported that Burton “was up and walking around…after the game.”
A fourth down inside the Heritage 20-yard line early in the first quarter initially offered the Pride an opportunity for a field goal attempt, but the offense instead went for the 1st down and fell short. If the field goal had been taken and made, Leesville could have been trailing by only a single score when threatening in the game’s closing seconds.
Hobgood noted that he thought the team could’ve had success rushing late in the game, but were forced to pass repetitively based on the situation. “If we were down one score…then we could’ve run the ball a little bit,” he said.
With the heat of summer weather no longer a concern, he also added that he plans to use some defensive players on offense more frequently in the coming weeks.
Leesville travels on the road to Broughton (1-4, 0-1) next Friday for Broughton’s homecoming game. The Pride won last year’s meeting between the two teams 42-14; the Capitals lost 60-20 to Wake Forest on Friday.