When the Pride needed it most, Leesville’s stars took the initiative and led their team to a critical comeback win on Friday night at Broughton.
Mike Dehaney, senior running back, rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Clay Vick, junior quarterback, completed two long touchdown passes to Elisiah Richardson, senior receiver. Daniel Gleiberman, senior defensive end, recorded three sacks and kept Broughton quarterback Owen Wilkinson on the run throughout the game.
And Leesville rallied back from 13-0 and 19-7 deficits to down Broughton 36-26 and earn their first road and first Cap-8 win of the 2014 season.
Platooning between passing quarterback Vick and running quarterback Mason Pyper, senior, the Pride squandered a plethora of scoring opportunities early on and appeared destined for 12-point halftime deficit. A 55-yard connection from Vick to Richardson as time expired in the second quarter, however, gave Leesville (3-3, 1-1 Cap-8) the momentum they had been longing for.
Mike Hobgood, head coach, accredited the play as the turning point of the game. “The points, but also the momentum, both were huge,” he said. “That was definitely a great play for us.”
A thrashing ground attack marched the offense down the field on a six-minute drive to begin the third quarter, finished off by Dehaney runs for both the touchdown and two-point conversion which gave Leesville their first lead.
Pyper, who finished with 15 carries for 67 yards, punched in a three-yard run to extend the advantage to 29-19 with 11:08 to play. Broughton (1-5, 0-2 Cap-8) answered, though, as Wilkinson (17-of-30, 200 yards) ripped off two long pass plays to quickly pull back within three points.
But Leesville proved destined to deliver the final blow of the night. Vick found Richardson streaking down the sideline, his pass gliding barely over the outstretched hands of a well-positioned Broughton cornerback, for a 66-yard bomb to essentially seal the victory.
After scoring a mere three points in the last two games combined, Leesville’s offense erupted convincingly out of their slump, out-gaining the host Capitals 411-264 for the game.
The offensive line — the subject of much of Hobgood’s criticism earlier in the season — dominated more and more over the course of the game, eventually opening up the space for 214 rushing yards. “The holes were there and that’s what happens,” said Dehaney.
“I didn’t see a lot of missed assignments,” added Hobgood. “Dehaney ran harder tonight than some previous games, which is great, and the line blocked better….that was a big difference.”
Vick completed nine of 15 attempts for 197 yards, with six of the completions and 164 of the yards going to Richardson. Hobgood expressed intent to continue the quarterback platoon system between Vick and Pyper after this week’s success.
“The offense finally did a little better, which it needed to,” said Hobgood. “We thought it was a good win for us.”
Penalties again riddled the game, a plague of yellow that seems to follow the Pride everywhere; a tsunami of personal fouls, illegal procedures, holdings and interferences inflicted a referee-sponsored tax of sorts on Leesville’s gained yardage, calling back one touchdown, two defensive stops and an onside kick recovery, among much else.
Nonetheless, Friday became a night for Leesville to finally celebrate, to enjoy the break in their offensive struggles and the return to a .500 record, both overall and in the conference.
“This [was] straight execution,” said Dehaney. “We worked our tails off in practice and it showed tonight.”
Leesville will travel to Sanderson (1-5, 0-2 Cap-8) next week in search of their second conference win. The Pride won last year’s meeting 28-17 at home; the Spartans lost 35-13 at Heritage on Friday.