LEESVILLE – The Leesville defense set the tone early, and the offense did its part as the Wampus Cats advance to the second round of the playoffs.
The Wampus Cats defeated Woodlawn-Shreveport 49-28 Friday night at Wampus Cat Stadium in the first round of the Class 4A LHSAA Playoffs.
"It's exciting because we played better," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "They are a quality opponent, and their scheme was sound. They pushed us and made us work.
"There's a lot of good teams in the state that we don't get to see. In the playoffs, you have to prepare for a faceless opponent because you don't know who you're going to get."
The Wampus Cat defense gave up just 78 rushing yards and a total of 279 yards in the victory.
"We played better than we did last week, and that's all preparation," Causey said. "When you don't prepare on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that's how you perform on Friday. Everything adds up and it's all about focus.
"Our felt like our kids wanted to show what they could do as a defensive unit, and they played with pride. Credit to Woodlawn and the plays they made. That's going to happen in the playoffs. What made me proud was that we never got down."
Leesville got to business quickly, scoring 28 points in the first quarter to take a commanding lead.
The Wampus Cats got on the board with a 19-yard jump ball from quarterback Jacob Mount to Duwon Tolbert to go up 7-0.
On the next play, Demarcus McCord picked off a pass and took it back 57 yards for the score, and running back Darius Sawyer broke off a 57-run on the next possession to go up 21-0.
Sawyer capped off the quarter with a 36-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 28.
Leesville running back D'Ante Gallashaw took a handoff 62 yards on a counter to the outside on the team's first possession of the second quarter to go up 35-0.
"You look at your team and find their strengths and weaknesses," Causey said. "You cover up your weaknesses with your strengths. We're not a perfect football team, but we have some strengths. Credit to the offensive staff for a great game plan. They stacked the box and gave us looks we were expecting. After the first drive, we made adjustments."
The Knights battled back and scored two touchdowns in the second quarter – a 1-yard run by quarterback Kentrez Roby and a 55-yard fumble return – to make it 35-14 at halftime.
Gallashaw's second touchdown run made it 42-14, but with 11:20 left in the game, Roby hit wide receiver Delatron Moton for a 5-yard touchdown.
Roby went 15-for-31 for 196 yards but threw two interceptions.
"That quarterback is special," Causey said. "He threaded the needle a few times. That's what you're going to get in the playoffs."
With 6:33 left, Woodlawn halfback Brian Stewart threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver Calvin Martin to to make it 42-28.
Leesville running back Caleb Gallashaw shut the door on the Knights with 3:16 to play as he scored on a sweep to the outside for the game's final score.
D'Ante Gallashaw led Leesville with 114 yards on 19 carries, and Sawyer ran for 119 yards on seven carries.
"That's a good defense," Causey said. "They outsized us all over the place, but our kids played with such tenacity that we were able to take advantage of stuff. Our backs were patient and understood what was expected of them."
The No. 6 Wampus Cats (11-0) will take on No. 11 Assumption (9-2), who beat No. 22 Carencro 8-6 Friday night.
"These fans came out and supported us, and I'm so proud," Causey said. "I remember three years ago when we played Karr, and the stands weren't full. To see the improvement now with the people coming out to support us makes my heart smile. We're trying to build a community team and to have the town come behind us."