LEESVILLE – Coming into Friday night's matchup, Leesville knew it would be a physical game, and it did not disappoint.
The Wampus Cat defense held Assumption to 196 total yards in their 27-14 win in the second round of the Class 4A Playoffs Friday night.
"We knew Saturday when we got the film that they were a physical football team," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "That's how they play, and that's what we expected. I wanted to see our kids rise to that challenge. They talk about soft CENLA and the brand of football we play here. We went toe-to-toe with two physical teams – one from Shreveport and one from south Louisiana. Our kids didn't flinch.
"These kids give everything they have for this community, town, the former Wampus Cats and the kids. We tell them all that time that that this is what you do. To be elite, you have to do things that other teams won't do and do it for one another."
The victory gives Leesville its first quarterfinal appearance since 1999 and keeps the Wampus Cats undefeated as they move on to take on No. 3 St. Martinville.
"This is what we expected to happen," Causey said. "But to get here, it takes sacrifices and work that started last November. This moment started the week after Thanksgiving last year. You keep putting in the work and effort."
Leesville capitalized on a pair of Assumption turnovers to start the game, scoring on a 1-yard run by quarterback Jacob Mount and on a 21-yard catch to Duwon Tolbert to go up 13-0.
The Leesville defense forced five turnovers – three fumbles, a turnover on downs and an interception by Tyler Brady.
"We never panicked," Causey said. "I told them that they were going to get punched in the mouth and you can't flinch because there was a lot of football left to be played."
Tolbert was a game breaker for the Wampus Cats, catching four pass for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Tolbert's performance was needed as Assumption took away the run game of Leesville.
"When you play good teams, they are going to take away what you do best," Causey said. "It was a mismatch up front, at times. They are a good football team, and that happens. You can't quit. You have to go back out. What a great lesson for these kids. No matter how much adversity or failure that you have, you have to keep going back out."
The Mustangs (9-3) got on the board on an 8-yard run by quarterback Fred Diggs with 4:13 left in the half, but the Wampus Cats answered on the next possession as Mount hit Tolbert for his second score of the day.
The third quarter was a slugfest, as the teams combined for five three-and-outs in the period.
"It wasn't the first time that we had seen big backs," Leesville linebacker Matthew Pajinag said about the large runners of Assumption. "We just needed time to warm up, and once we got focused, we were good.
"At first, we were finding our groove and feeling it out. Once we got some confidence, we just kept going from there."
The defenses controlled the fourth quarter, as well, and with under three minutes to play, Leesville linebacker Chris Davis recovered a fumble after Assumption running back Jarvis Stewart could not handle the option pitch.
The Wampus Cats took advantage three plays later as running back Darius Sawyer went up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown for the game's final score.
Caleb Gallashaw led Leesville on the ground with 63 yards on 10 carries, and Mount threw for 108 yards on 5-for-10 passing.