A woefully depleted Leesville offense committed six turnovers and sputtered to just five first downs as the Pride lost 27-0 to Panther Creek on Friday, Sept. 19.
After leading 13-0 at halftime, a 50-yard touchdown on a fake punt early in the third quarter helped the Catamounts (3-1) pull away decisively. An eight-yard touchdown pass from Brenden Magner, Panther Creek quarterback, with 4:56 left sealed the win.
The Pride (2-2) never came closer to scoring than a 42-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half, but senior kicker Taylor Johnson’s kick was blocked by Panther Creek’s Juwan Byrd. The offense’s only other appearance in Panther Creek territory came thanks to two consecutive 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the third quarter, but Leesville fumbled the opportunity away.
Mike Hobgood, head coach, admitted that the team still has “to correct so many things.”
“There’s going to be some frustrating times when you have that many turnovers,” he said. “When you’re not firing on all cylinders and [the other team] is, it’s not…pretty.”
Neither Khamari Alexander, senior running back (out for the season with a leg injury), nor Elisiah Richardson, senior receiver (ankle injury), suited up for Leesville; Mike Dehaney, senior running back, left the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter and did not return.
“When Richardson and Dehaney are both out, we get a lot less athletic very quickly,” said Hobgood. “At that point, you need your offensive line to step up and make something happen, and we’re just too inexperienced there.”
The home team made a whopping eight trips to the red zone, but Leesville’s defense held strong, forcing an endzone interception, two botched field goal snaps and three other field goal attempts (two of which were good).
Max Reconnu, senior linebacker, was pleased with his unit’s effort. “Defensively, we played pretty well,” he said. “We came together as a team more, but unfortunately they just got the better of us.”
Hobgood also praised the unit. “The defense played fairly well considering the scenarios they were put in,” he said. Matthew Melvin, sophomore defensive tackle, and Daniel Gleiberman, senior defensive end, were both heavily involved in stopping the ground attack.
Clay Vick, junior quarterback, completed 16 of 28 passes for 109 yards and one interception. Conner Eller, senior receiver, led the team with 43 receiving yards. For Panther Creek, Magner completed 17 of 30 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Addison Pinkney ran for 74 yards on 21 carries. The Catamounts out-gained the Pride by a 375-119 margin.
The Pride begin their conference schedule next Friday, Sept. 26, at home in Hamilton Stadium against Heritage (3-1); the Huskies won last year’s meeting 30-7. Richardson is currently questionable to play, with Hobgood noting that his ability to make cuts in practice this week will determine whether or not he’ll be cleared. Information was not immediately available on Dehaney’s health status.