Going into the fourth quarter of play, the momentum was squarely in the corner of the visitors from Westlake.

Going into the fourth quarter of play, the momentum was squarely in the corner of the visitors from Westlake.

But after an inspired speech from Leesville head coach Tommy Moore in between the third and fourth periods, the Wampus Cats came to life.

Junior tailback Cory McCoy accounted for 382 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, while DaQuan Davis added 83 yards and a touchdown on four carries, lifting the homestanding Wampus Cats to a 41-24 win over the Rams in the season opener on Friday night.

“We did exactly what we are supposed to do,” Moore said. “We bounced back in the fourth quarter and it feels great to be 1-0. We did what we had to do. We did what we were supposed to do.”

Though the Rams dropped to 0-1 on the season, Westlake head coach Phil Fontenot saw some things he liked out of his young team.

“There are never any quick fixes and you have to give it a little time,” Fontenot said. “But I’m pleased with how we competed tonight and how our kids kept competing. They didn’t tuck their tails and they kept fighting.”

Early on, the Rams took the lead on the Wampus Cats, despite losing running back Brevin Ned on the second play of the game. Westlake continued to march the ball down the field and took a 3-0 advantage after a 37-yard field goal by Johnathan Peshoff split the uprights.

It didn’t take Leesville long to respond as McCoy scored on a 21-yard touchdown run. With the extra point from Jacob Adams, the Wampus Cats owned a 7-3 lead with 7:59 to go.

Westlake took over deep in its own territory, where the turnover bug would bite. Quarterback Hunter Racca was picked off by Leesville’s Jaelyn Edwards, who scooted 33 yards for the touchdown and a 14-3 Wampus Cat advantage.

The Wampus Cats extended their lead in the second period after a 2-yard touchdown run by Caden Wheeler and a 54-yard scamper for a score by McCoy, opening up a 28-3 cushion.

“We dug ourselves a hole early with the turnovers,” Fontenot said of his team. “And it was a hole we couldn’t quite get out of.”

However, Westlake was able to take advantage of a Leesville turnover late in the second period as Brayden Winn reeled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Racca, cutting the deficit to 28-10 at the half.

Leesville’s offense sputtered in the third quarter and Westlake managed to put together a drive that ended with a 2-yard Racca TD run with four seconds to go. Heading into the fourth period, the Rams were within striking distance, 28-17.

But just 14 seconds into the fourth period, McCoy responded with a 92-yard touchdown run and Davis scored from 32 yards out with 5:19 to go, giving Leesville a commanding lead, 41-17.

Michael Boudreaux added a late 5-yard touchdown run for the Rams, closing the gap to 17 points, 41-24.

“That first play was just what we needed,” Moore said of the McCoy 92-yard TD run. “That first play flipped the momentum in our favor and I thought our defense stepped up and did a great job. They got tougher as a unit tonight.”

McCoy rushed for 230 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns for the Cats. He also had 26 yards receiving, along with 126 return yards, finishing with 382 all-purpose yards.

Wheeler added 93 yards rushing and a touchdown for Leesville.

Racca completed 10-of-24 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for a score. Joseph January had 109 yards combined between rushing and receiving, while Daniel Eaglin tallied a team-high 78 yards rushing.

The Wampus Cats go on the road to face South Beauregard next week, while the Rams will meet up with Crowley.