Leesville turns to its defense to stop Sanderson

CorrespondentOctober 11, 2013 

Leesville Road turned to its defense in the second half to stymie Sanderson’s upset hopes and earn a 28-17 Cap Eight 4A victory.

Leesville’s defense had two interceptions and recovered a fumble in the second half to stop the Sanderson attack.

“They’re a very physical football team. We knew they would be,” Leesville Road coach Chad Smothers said of Sanderson. “But we hung in there and got a little bit better in the second half.”

Trailing 17-14 late in the third quarter, Leesville Road (5-2, 2-1) forced a fumble and recovered at midfield. The Pride then used an 11-play scoring drive that extended into the fourth quarter. Quarterback Malcolm Hitchcock’s 2-yard plunge gave Leesville its first lead 21-17.

Then Hitchcock, playing safety, stepped in front of a Matt Koehler pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Parker Yount’s extra point put the Pride up 28-17 with five minutes remaining.

Sanderson (3-4, 1-2) couldn’t rebound on its next possession going four-and-out as the Leesville defense held.

Despite the strong finish, things didn’t start smoothly for the Pride. Sanderson scored on its opening possession with a 6-yard touchdown run by Zairee Parker. Grayson Gregory’s kick made it 7-0.

Leesville Road tied it at 7 on its next possession with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Hitchcock to Connor Eller on a fourth-and-8 play.

Sanderson answered early in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Koehller to make it 14-7.

Leesville tied it at 14 on its opening drive of the second half. Hitchcock, the do-it-all athlete, returned the kickoff 53 yards to the Sanderson 37. Three plays later he scrambled 37 yards for a touchdown.

Sanderson almost answered equally with a 67-yard kick return by Parker, but the Leesville defense held the Spartans to a 35-yard field goal by Gregory for a 17-14 lead.

“That was one of the turning points of the game holding them to a field goal attempt after a long kick return. We had just tied it up, and that would have put us back down by seven (if Sanderson scored a touchdown.) That was a huge stop for us there,” Smother said.

Despite making only his second start at quarterback, Hitchcock has thrown for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and had an interception in two straight games.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Smothers said. “He’s proved himself and taken command of the offense.”

Smothers said Berrios remains “week-to-week” in his evaluation for a return, but doesn’t believe Berrios will be out for the season.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service