DERIDDER – For the first time since 2015, the Hooper Trophy will reside in DeRidder.

The Dragons kept the ball out the hands of the hands of the explosive Leesville offense, en route to a 24-21 win Friday night at DeRidder High School.

"It feels great," DeRidder head coach Brad Parmley said. "Tonight is a great night to be a Dragon. These kids played their tails off. The community came out tonight and supported us.

"It's a big ball game. This game has been played for a long, long time. It was a great atmosphere tonight. It was a good Louisiana high school football game."

The loss marks the second in a row for the Wampus Cats, and head coach Robert Causey wants to see his team learn from the defeats.

"It was just execution," he said. "They did, and we didn't. There were too many turnovers again. Defensively, we didn't fit on the run. They went to something that they showed just a little bit of and stayed in it all game. They were smart. Coach Parmley is a great coach.

"I told them that it's just life. Bad things happen to good people, and you don't know why. You just have to keep plugging away. To me, that's the lesson. Our season isn't defined by the DeRidder ball game. It's defined on how we handle each week. I'm looking to see how we lead."

DeRidder kept the ball on the ground, and its running backs ran behind the big offensive line all game.

"They're explosive on offense, so limiting possessions gives them less chances to score," Parmley said.

"We kept throwing body blows. Finally, it paid off in the fourth quarter."

Leesville ran just 40 plays compared to 68 plays from DeRidder.

"Our offensive is explosive at times, and they don't need a whole lot of plays anyway," Causey said. "I didn't thing that effected us. It just put more pressure on the defensive side of the ball, because we didn't fit right. They found the mismatches and went right at them."

The Dragons leaned on running back Jalyn Thurman, who carried the ball 37 times for 213 yards in the win.

"He's a warrior," Parmley said. "He's the kind of kid you want to coach. He's a yes, sir-no, sir kind of kid. He comes to practice every day and is a great teammate. He had a heck of a night."

After a scoreless first quarter, Leesville got on the board first with a 2-yard keeper by quarterback Jacob Mount to go up 7-0.

With 2:28 left in the half, Thurman scored on a 10-yard run to tie it up, and as time expired in the second quarter, Jose Mijares kick a 39-yard field goal to give DeRidder a 10-7 lead at the break.

In the third quarter, Mount hit tight end Noah Allain with an 18-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead.

DeRidder quarterback KJ Gooden reclaimed the lead for DeRidder with a 1-yard sneak on the 1-yard line.

"It's hard to find the right the answers, sometimes," Causey said. "When you do have the answers, can your kids execute? That's what it boils down to, and that's my fault. I told them when we win, the kids get the credit, but when we lose, it's my fault."

With 6:58 to play and facing a fourth and 11, Gooden hit wide receiver Ashton Broussard in the back corner of the endzone in double coverage for a 22-yard touchdown.

Leesville (5-2, 0-2) pulled within a 3 after a 7-yard touchdown by Caleb Gallashaw with two minutes left on the clock.

DeRidder (5-2, 2-0) recovered the onside kick, and facing a fourth-and-4 with under 1:30 to play, Parmley rolled the dice to put the game away.

The Dragons lined up in their big S.W.A.T. package, and Josiah Henry picked up the first down to give his team the win.

"We weren't going to try and trick anybody," Parmley said. "We've been running that formation since August. The kids are comfortable and confident in it.

"You put the ball on the 40 or 20, it doesn't matter. They are too explosive."

Gooden went 8-for-11 for 78 yards and rushed for 47 yards on 13 carries.

Gallashaw led Leesville with 91 yards on 12 carries, and Darius Sawyer pulled down three passes for 81 yards.

Mount went 9-for-13 for 147 yards and a touchdown.

DeRidder is now tied at the top of the District 3 with Tioga at 2-0.

"No. 1, it's a big ball game because it's DeRidder-Leesville," Parmley said. "No. 2 it's a big district win, and No. 3, they were top-five in the Power Rankings. This game was huge, and I'm so proud of our kids for trusting and believing what we've been teaching them about getting better. We want to line up, play a physical brand of football and play good football."