LEESVILLE – In one of the oldest rivalries in the state, defense was the key for Leesville as it kept the Hooper Trophy north on Highway 171.

The Wampus Cats held DeRidder to 59 total yards as Leesville defeated the Dragons 26-7 Friday night at Wampus Cat Stadium.

"I'm pleased," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "The community came out and supported us. Our kids fought and were resilient. We struggled, but we never quit or gave up. The game played out how we thought it would play out. We knew they would be well-coached and schemed up. For us to do what we did against a quality opponent like that, it's pleasing. We're growing and improving."

The DeRidder defense made plays, as well, holding Leesville almost 10 points under its season average.

"It was a hard-fought game until the end," DeRidder head coach Brad Parmley said. "Our kids played their tails off, and credit to Leesville, they took away what we do, offensively. Our defense played their tails off. On defense, we did enough to win, but on offense, we have to move the ball. We will. Our kids are growing up before our eyes. I was proud of their effort. We gave them a fight."

Leesville got on the board first with a 15-yard touchdown on a throw from Jacob Mount to tight end Noah Allain with 5:16 to play in the first quarter.

Allain, who started the season in a quarterback battle with Mount, caught four passes for 70 yards, but three of his four catches picked up a first down on third or fourth down or recorded a touchdown.

"We preach being unselfish, and we talked about serving other people," Causey said. "It's hard, because you're dealing with teenage boys. You preach to them to serve others because you don't know when it's going to be someone else's turn to play and who are you here trying to make better? Our kids are buying into that.

"Noah just wants to do well. He plays wherever you put him, and he gives you great effort."

The Wampus Cats (8-0, 3-0) and Dragons stayed out of the end zone for the rest of the first half, but Leesville got back on the board in the third quarter on a 15-yard run by running back Darius Sawyer.

Sawyer recorded 94 receiving yards and scored on his line carry of the game.

"Penalties hurt us," Causey said. "We would get down there and there would be a flag. It's hard to call when you're on the 5 and next thing you know, it's third-and-goal from the 15."

With 4:17 left in the third, Mount hit Sawyer for a 5-yard touchdown to put Leesville up 20-0.

On DeRidder's next possession, quarterback KJ Gooden rolled out to his left and found a wide-open Ashton Broussard for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Dragons (4-4, 0-2) picked off a pass on the ensuing possession but were forced to punt deep in their own territory.

Leesville capitalized with a 9-yard touchdown run by D'Ante Gallashaw for the game's final score. Gallashaw finished with 58 yards, and Caleb Gallashaw had a game-high 122 yards on 21 carries.

Jalyn Thurman finished with 25 yards on seven carries for DeRidder, while Damian Latham ran for 18 yards on eight carries.

"(Leesville is) so athletic up front," Parmley said. "They were able to get some penetration, early on especially, and we could never really get into a rhythm, offensively. We couldn't get a big play and made us earn everything we got. They're a good football team."

Leesville is back in action Friday night to take on Tioga to claim an outright district title, and DeRidder takes on Buckeye at home to try and end its three-game losing streak.