In a game of big plays and prolific offense, Leesville’s passing attack proved slightly inferior to Millbrook’s running game, and the contrast made all the difference in Friday’s rivalry game.
Led by 328 total yards and two touchdowns from running back Marcus Marshall, the Wildcats (8-2, 5-1 Cap-8) held off several Pride (5-5, 3-3) comeback attempts and pulled away for a 44-24 win on Halloween and Senior Night at Hamilton Stadium.
“They’re really talented,” said Leesville coach Mike Hobgood of Millbrook. “We didn’t tackle particularly well at times. They have that guy (referring to Marshall), and if you don’t swarm to the ball every single play, he’s going to hurt you.”
The two rivals combined for 68 points and 902 yards of offense (502 for Millbrook, exactly 400 for Leesville), but the game’s lone defensive touchdown was arguably the most important of all. With 4:49 left in the third quarter, Raul Oquendo picked off Leesville quarterback Clay Vick, junior, and returned the interception 46 yards for a touchdown. The resulting 37-21 lead for the visitors put the Pride in a hole from which they could not recover.
Despite several trips inside the red zone — one stopped on 4th and goal, the other leading to a questionable 22-yard field goal with under eight minutes remaining — the Pride were unable to cut significantly into the deficit. Marshall’s second touchdown, a 56-yard run in the final minute, added an exclamation point to the victory.
After Millbrook jumped out to a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter, Leesville’s passing game came to life, with Vick finding Trey Keeney and Elisiah Richardson, seniors, for 52- and 24-yard catch and run touchdowns. A 70-yard dash from Marshall in between the hosts’ two scores and a 39-yard field goal to the end the half gave the Wildcats a 23-14 halftime advantage.
Both teams traded critical fourth-down touchdowns early the third quarter. Vick found Richardson for a 30-yard score to cut the lead to its closest point — 23-21 — with 7:07 remaining, but Millbrook quarter Reid Herring answered with a 33-yard toss less than two minutes later.
Vick completed 26 of 46 attempts for 325 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for Leesville; on the other side, Herring completed 13 of 21 for 224 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Richardson’s 10 receptions for 132 yards were the highest totals of any receiver in the game, while Mike Dehaney, senior, added 79 yards on 14 carries for the Pride.
Vick, upbeat despite the loss, lauded the play of his receivers. “Good job to Conner Eller and Elisiah Richardson making plays after the catch, short little plays that broke for long [gains],” he said. “They made some nice catches tonight.”
Leesville will conclude its regular season schedule next Friday at Wakefield, another 5-5 team, in a rematch of last season’s conference championship game. The winner will be guaranteed of a 4-AA playoff berth; the loser’s fate will be uncertain.
“We need to beat Wakefield,” said Hobgood. “That’s one of those games, kind of like Sanderson, Broughton [and] Enloe, where we’re probably a little bit more even in talent. We’ve had pretty good success with those type of games, so we’re hoping to just come focused.”