The offense failed to gain traction until the fourth quarter, the defense again found Bryce Love impossible to contain and the 2014 Leesville football season ended with a 42-13 loss at Wake Forest on Friday.
As the No. 16 seed braving near-freezing temperatures against the undefeated top-seeded Cougars — even with Wake Forest (12-0, 8-0) head coach Reggie Lucas absent due to a DWI suspension — the Pride (5-7, 3-4) entered the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs with little optimism.
Such expectations proved appropriate as the hosts rumbled out to a 28-0 halftime lead, with three touchdown runs by three different running backs and a 24-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Mack Moore. Love added his second score to extend the advantage to 35-0 early in the fourth quarter, then broke a 93-yard marathon touchdown later on for the Cougars’ sixth and final addition to the scoreboard.
“We couldn’t get the ball down the field offensively, and we couldn’t stop them defensively, and…anytime that’s going to happen then you’re going to lose the game,” said senior linebacker Spencer Eason-Riddle bluntly.
Mike Hobgood, head coach, expressed similar frustration with the lack of ball control. “We couldn’t really do anything offensively,” he said. “The defense played well, except for some big plays.”
Leesville quarterback Clay Vick, pummelled by sack after sack for much of the night, finally found a bit of a rhythm late. Vick hit senior receivers Elisiah Richardson and Conner Eller for 38- and 31-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter to end the shutout attempt.
“They came out strong, we came out unfocused or too hype and they kicked our butts for about 24 minutes in the first half,” said Vick. “Second half, we came out strong, but it was just too late at that point.”
Love rushed 16 times for 227 yards for Wake Forest, which out-gained Leesville 456-244 for the game and advanced to face Pinecrest in the second round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Vick completed 19 of 37 attempts for 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions; Richardson caught eight passes for 149 yards; Mike Dehaney, senior running back, rushed 12 times for 38 yards before an ankle injury ended his performance early.
“It’s just…a sinking feeling when you can’t do anything offensively,” said Hobgood.