Leesville struggled near the end of the season to pick up wins, but the Wampus Cats showed up in the first round of the playoffs.
No. 17 Leesville got out to a hot start to defeat No. 16 Pearl River 47-21 Friday night on the road.
"They had good body language all game," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "When things were great, our body language was good, and when they made some plays on offense and got inside our 10, we came up with two, big third down stops. We carried ourselves well. We didn't get too high or too low. I've been doing this a long time, and I was so proud of ours kids. I wanted that win more for these kids than a lot of wins I've been blessed to be a part of because of what they've been through this year."
Leading 7-3 at the end the first quarter, Jacob Mount hit tight end Noah Allain for a 13-yard touchdown to open up the second period.
The Wampus Cats extended their lead with a 7-yard touchdown run by Caleb Gallashaw, and Mount found Darius Sawyer for 13-yard score with under a minute to go in the first half.
"We matched up with them up front," Causey said. "I felt like our skill kids were a little bit better than theirs, but the measuring stick is how good are you up front compared to them. Four of the last five games, we haven't matched up well up front. That's a telltale sign that you are going to struggle moving the ball and stopping people.
"We just made plays. The kids believed in each other, and I told them that when we get into the playoffs, this is our season. We win football games in the playoffs. It's just the third time in Leesville history that they've won a playoff game in four straight years."
Mount hit Sawyer for another touchdown toss in the third quarter to make it 34-9 and added another touchdown throw in the fourth.
Mount finished the day with four touchdown passes in the win.
"He's just steady," Causey said. "He's a phenomenal game manager. He's a kid that understands his role and what he brings to the table. He plays within that."
Leesville gave up 18 points in the second half, but kept Pearl River in check despite missing guys all over the defense.
"At one point in time, there was not a single linebacker playing that started Week 1," Causey said. "I think there were only two defensive linemen that started Week 1, and in the secondary, I didn't have a single starter.
"They competed. Their running back is special. He's the real deal, and he exposed us. Our kids kept playing hard."
The Wampus Cats have a big test ahead of them next week, taking on No. 1 Lakeshore at home.
"We won't change what we do or how we practice," Causey said. "You have three days to prepare with Thursday being a walkthrough. There's not a whole lot you can do differently. When you get to this point, you're one of the top 16 teams in the state. You're playing at home. It's about executing and focusing on the process. We tell our kids it boils down to a game of inches. Focus on the fundamentals and if we take care of that, we will win more than we're supposed to.
"There is a reason why they are No. 1 in the state. They have a huge talent pool to choose from, phenomenal facilities and great coaches. They have great athletes all over the place. It's still the game of football. You put on your pads, and if you play behind yours and they don't, you're going to win."